Date of conviction: Nov 1999
Date of appeal: First Appeal 2000 – Second Appeal Jan.2003
Date of release: Jan 2003
Time Served: 4 years
Sally Clark became the victim of an infamous miscarriage of justice in 1999, when she was convicted of the murder of two of her sons. Even after the conviction was overturned, she never recovered from the experience, developing a number of serious psychiatric problems, including alcohol dependency. Sally Clark died of acute alcohol poisoning at her home in March 2007.
Clark’s first son died suddenly within a few weeks of his birth in 1996. In 1998, after her second son died in a similar manner, she was arrested and tried for the murder of both sons. Her prosecution was controversial due to statistical evidence presented by pediatrician, Sir Roy Meadow, who testified that the chances of two children from an affluent family suffering sudden infant death syndrome were ‘1 in 73 million’. The Royal Statistical Society later issued a public statement expressing its concern at the ‘misuse of statistics in the courts’, and arguing that there was “no statistical basis” for Meadow’s claim.
Clark’s convictions were upheld at he first appeal in October 2000, but overturned in January 2003, at a second appeal, where it emerged that the prosecutor’s pathologist had failed to disclose microbiological reports which suggested that one of her sons had died of natural causes. She was released from prison after serving more than three years of her sentence. Journalist, Geoffrey Wansell, described Clark’s case as “one of the great miscarriages of justice in modern British legal history”. As a result, the Attorney-General ordered a review of hundreds of other cases, leading to the convictions of two other women, convicted of murdering their children, being overturned.