Fiona Donnison jailed for murdering her children in UK

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why you did this defies logical explanation

Mr Justice Nicol

Fiona Donnison, a mother of two, has been found guilty of killing her own children. The 45-year-old, from Surrey, England, had been accused of murdering her son Harry and daughter Elise, aged three and two years respectively.

The murders occurred in January 2010, with the bodies of Harry and Elise Donnison found in bags in their mother's car, close to the family's former residence in East Sussex. Fiona Donnison is thought to have then awaited the arrival of Paul Donnison, her former partner, with two knives to injure him. Mr Donnison failed to appear at the scene; he was residing with a new girlfriend at the time.

On January 27 of this year, Fiona Donnison entered a police station in the town of Heathfield and confessed to murdering the children but did not inform police of the location of their bodies. When the Nissan vehicle was searched, the bodies of Elise and Harry were discovered in two separate holdalls.

In Lewes Crown Court, where the trial was held, the prosecution described Donnison suffocating the children to death and placing their bodies inside a vehicle. Donnison herself did not give evidence at trial.

The defence for Donnison claimed that she had been suffering from severe depression and was not in the correct state of mind at the time of the incident, saying that the offences should be downgraded to manslaughter. The defence claimed she was unable to recall the incident and was not able to bring herself to identify the two children by name.

A clinical psychologist contested that statement, deeming such mental health difficulties impossible in this case. It was "100% likely [she was] feigning" them, they said. The prosecution attributed their claims to the preparation involved in the committing of the crime. This, it said, was justification for the murder charge.

The jury at Lewes Crown Court unanimously found Fiona Donnison guilty of the two murders. As the verdict was delivered, the accused opted to remain in her cell. She was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum period in custody of 32 years. The judge, Mr Justice Nicol, believed that their deaths were "no accident". He remarked: "You killed them, you who were their mother. Why you did this defies logical explanation. It seems it can only have something to do with your feelings for Paul Donnison, the children's father and your former partner."

Outside the court, Paul Donnison commented that his family had suffered an "almost unbearable" experience. Paul also claimed that the system for bringing criminals to justice was "biased" towards the accused, commenting on how Fiona had been handled "with kid gloves".

With the sentence having been given out, it has emerged that prosecutors were intending to have Ms. Donnison tried for a third murder charge. This would have been for Mia, the first child Fiona had with Paul. Mia died at the age of nine months in April 2004, originally thought to be down to sudden infant death syndrome. In a hearing before the trial, the prosecuting side claimed they had "taken together" enough evidence for a murder charge to be taken in contemplation in Mia's case. Mr Justice Cooke decided against this charge being brought on as part of the court trial, citing the absence of direct evidence about the death of Mia.