Maxine Robinson (born 1968) is an English woman who murdered all three of her children between 1989 and 1993.[1] Convicted of murdering two of the children in 1995, Robinson unsuccessfully appealed against her convictions, claiming their deaths had been natural. However, in 2004, she admitted killing them and further revealed that she had, in 1989, murdered her first-born child, whose death until then had been considered a cot death. Her trial judge observed that Robinson's case was a "timely" reminder that "not all mothers in prison for killing their children are the victims of miscarriages of justice."

Maxine Robinson
Born1968 (age 55–56)
MotiveUnable to cope with her children
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 10 years (1995), three years imprisonment (2004)
Span of crimes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Date apprehended
1995 (for two murders)

Murders edit

In 1989, Robinson's nine-month-old daughter, Victoria, died suddenly at the family home in Pelton, near Chester-le-Street, County Durham.[2][3] The death was not considered suspicious at the time and was judged to be a cot death.[2] In 1993, both Robinson's 19-month-old daughter, Christine, and five-month-old son, Anthony, also died suddenly.[2] Suspicion fell on Robinson because she had not employed the resuscitation training she received after Victoria's death.[1] Robinson denied any wrongdoing and claimed the children also suffered cot death. Some experts called by the defense at her trial agreed with her claims that the deaths were natural,[2][4] though a Home Office pathologist testified that the deaths were consistent with suffocation. Robinson was convicted of their murders at trial in 1995 by a narrow majority verdict. She appealed the verdict, but her conviction was upheld.[4][1]

Confessions edit

Robinson's conviction had in part been based upon the evidence of paediatrician Roy Meadow, who had devised a statistical theory that said that more than one unexplained child death in a family was suspicious, and more than two indicated murder.[5] Meadow's work was subsequently discredited and several convictions based upon his evidence were quashed, such as in the Angela Cannings, Trupti Patel and Sally Clark cases. In January 2004, the Attorney General ordered Robinson's conviction, along with many others based on Meadow's evidence, to be reviewed as potentially unsafe.[6][5][7][8]

Before a review could occur, however, Robinson told a prison 'listener' at HM Prison Durham that she had killed all three of her children, revealing that they had been smothered in their sleep.[2][4][1] She was charged with Victoria's murder in April 2004.[2] Although advised by her defence to plead guilty to infanticide with diminished responsibility, Robinson instead pleaded guilty to murder, saying she had smothered the baby with a deflated balloon.[3][2][4] She said she had killed Victoria as she had been unable to cope with her, was depressed at the time and was criticised by her mother.[3]

Robinson was already serving a life sentence for the murder of her two younger children when she pleaded guilty to murdering the oldest. The judge increased her minimum term by three years, remarking that the case was a "timely" reminder that "not all mothers in prison for killing their children are the victims of miscarriages of justice."[3]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d Clixby, Hilary (23 April 2004). "Murdered by their mother". Newcastle Journal. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Mother admits killing third baby". BBC News. 22 April 2004. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d "Three extra years for baby killer". BBC News. 18 June 2004. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d Carter, Helen (23 April 2004). "Mother says she killed third child". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Mother defies lawyers to admit killing baby". The Times. 23 April 2004. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  6. ^ "Minister orders review of 285 cot death 'murders'". The Independent. 20 January 2004. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  7. ^ Lister, Sam (23 April 2004). "Confusion on sudden infant deaths". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 20 April 2023.
  8. ^ Dyer, Owen (2004). "Five cases of child murder to be reopened". BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.). 328 (7449): 1154. doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7449.1154-a. PMC 411128. PMID 15142904.