A mother has been sentenced for killing her baby son in East Sussex, four years after being sentenced for killing her three-year old daughter.
Lesley Dunford, 37, of Windermere Close, Exeter, Devon, was sentenced for the second time when she appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday (15 April), after pleading guilty at a hearing at the same court in March to the murder of her seven month-old son, Harley, at the family’s then address in Pelwood Road, Camber, on 27 August 2003.
On 15 April she was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum tariff of 13 years.
The death of Harley in August 2003 was investigated by police at the time and following a post-mortem the cause of death was recorded as pneumonia and there was no evidence to justify any criminal proceedings.
She was then convicted at Lewes Crown Court on 20 June 2012, of the manslaughter of her three year old daughter Lucy at the family home on 2 February 2004 and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
However, in 2014 Lesley Dunford, by then in prison, began a series of verbal and written admissions to prison staff, about killing Harley by smothering him in his cot.
Police were informed and in June 2015 detectives interviewed her under caution about Harley’s death.
She made no comment but by that time she had already confirmed her various verbal admissions by making a complete written admission in prison, unprompted and in her own handwriting.
Two specialist pathologists, in paediatric pathology and in forensic pathology, reviewed the forensic evidence on Harley’s death.
They concluded that the forensic evidence, taken alongside Lesley Dunford’s detailed confessions, was consistent with suffocation.
Detective Chief Inspector Wendy Burton of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said; “This has been a tragic case, in which two children have lost their lives and their family has been stricken by terrible heartache
“Both investigations were complex. A key factor in both was forensic evidence, and in cases of very young children that can be very difficult to interpret in a way that the criminal justice system can deal with.
“But Lesley Dunford then confessed, on several occasions, verbally and in writing, to killing Harley too. This, together with the forensic review, was fully considered by the CPS who authorised her prosecution.
“Justice has now been done and our sympathies are with little Harley and Lucy.”
Wayne Dunford, husband of Lesley Dunford and father of Harley and Lucy, said; “This has been a very difficult time for myself. Lesley lied to me about what had happened with the children. She was very good at this and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to family and friends for this deceit that lasted for a decade. I am truly sorry.”