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Lancashire woman who suffocated baby daughter to death has jail sentence increased

A woman who killed her baby daughter has had her prison sentence increased to eight years by the Court of Appeal.

Eight-month-old Francesca Haworth died from asphyxiation after she was suffocated at an address in Blackpool in November 2018.

Her mother Caitlin Jones, 22, admitted manslaughter and was jailed for five years, eight months in April.

However, following a referral by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) under the unduly lenient sentence scheme, the Court of Appeal increased her sentence by two years and four months in a ruling on Wednesday.

Jones, attending the hearing via video link from HMP Styal in Cheshire, appeared emotional and was often seen wiping her eyes.

Oliver Glasgow QC, representing the AGO, said the sentencing judge reduced Jones’ sentence too much when considering her personal circumstances.

The court heard Jones had made several internet searches related to suffocating babies in the hours before the baby’s death.

Mr Glasgow told the court Jones made the searches between 1.30am and 6am, before attempting to wipe them from her phone and iPad at around 7am.

He said: “There was a considered period of time at which she looked at the consequences of the actions she would carry out.”

However, she later told detectives that she had gone to sleep at around 1am and found Francesca with a blanket wrapped tightly around her face around 7.20am.

The barrister added that while Jones had not blamed her partner, “the inevitable result of what she said or hinted at in interview was her partner became the focus of the investigation”.

The court heard Jones’ relationship with her partner had deteriorated, calling it “loveless” and that it was said she had mental health difficulties, though no expert evidence was produced.

Mr Glasgow added: “She had experienced difficulties and said to her friends that she could not cope any more.

“It is apparent that she was regarded by those who knew her as a good mother.”

Fiona Horlick QC, defending, said that Jones cared “very deeply” for her daughter.

She said: “This is very far from a case where the death of a child is an endpoint in a long course of conduct either neglect or something more deliberate than that.”

Ms Horlick also stressed the impact of a prolonged prison sentence upon Jones’ family.

In her ruling, Lady Justice Macur noted it is still not known why Jones killed her daughter, who was described as “happy and healthy”.

The judge, sitting with Mrs Justice May and Judge Geoffrey Marson QC, found the sentence was unduly lenient and should be increased.

Lady Justice Macur said: “There was a significant aggravating feature of Francesca’s vulnerability.

“Her age meant that she was unable to resist the adverse attention of her mother.”

She found the sentencing judge was wrong to reduce the sentence as much as he did.

Lady Justice Macur continued: “In these circumstances, we do have difficulty as to why he gave such great weight to the offender’s personal mitigation.

“The sentence of five years eight months is quashed and a sentence of eight years will be substituted.”

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