Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jailed German nanny cleared of injuring baby by British appeal court

Court of Appeal rules that convictions for causing grievous bodily harm to ten-week-old child were unsafe. There appear to be no publicly-available details of the grounds for the appeal but the fact that a retrial was refused suggests that the original conviction was based on weak medical evidence backed by supposition only

A nanny who was jailed for seriously injuring a baby has had her name cleared by the Court of Appeal. Jasmin Schmidt, from Germany, was sentenced to three years in prison last September and served seven months. She had been found guilty of two counts of causing grievous bodily harm.

During the trial, the jury at the Old Bailey was told that Ms Schmidt, 33, who had previously worked for a pop star and other celebrities, had lost her temper with the ten-week-old child during a restless night and shook him violently. Ms Schmidt, a qualified paediatric nurse from Bonn, had been hired to look after the child while his parents, who cannot be named, attended a London Fashion Week event in 2002.

Last week three Court of Appeal judges ruled that Ms Schmidt's convictions were unsafe. This judgment can only be reported now after a ruling that she should not face a retrial.

Ms Schmidt's barrister, Diana Ellis, QC, had argued that problems in the way that the case had been summed up to the jury rendered the convictions unsafe. The appeal was allowed and the convictions quashed by Lord Justice Scott Baker, Mr Justice Mackay and Mr Justice Beatson. The case was adjourned until this week. Yesterday, lawyers for the prosecution applied for the case to be heard again by another jury, but the application was rejected by the court. “We have considered carefully the arguments both ways, but we come to the clear conclusion that it would not be in the interests of justice for there to be a retrial in this case,” Lord Justice Scott Baker said.

It was alleged at last year's trial that the baby's parents, who run a shop in North Yorkshire, had found him whimpering in his cot after Ms Schmidt's third night working for the family. He was taken to hospital suffering from a fractured elbow and brain injuries, but made a full recovery after a long period in a critical state. Giving evidence, the child's mother said: “I could tell his body was feeling a little bit more limp. I could tell he was very poorly.” When she telephoned Ms Schmidt, the nanny claimed that the baby could be suffering from a bug.

Jailing her, the Recorder, Jeremy Gold, QC, said: “As you have never revealed what you did to him, I cannot rule out that these injuries were injuries inflicted by you in an outburst of violence resulting from a loss of temper or a lack of sleep or both. “I'm satisfied that you used a degree of force that any sensible person, let alone a qualified paediatric nurse, would have inevitably realised was bound to have caused injury to a delicate and precious infant. It was an act of genuine cruelty.”

Ms Schmidt had worked for a number of wealthy families in West London after arriving in Britain in 1998. After the trial, it emerged that Ms Schmidt in another trial earlier last year, had been cleared of causing actual bodily harm to a two-month-old girl in August 2006 and a three-month-old boy in July 2003. Ms Schmidt, who lives in Hampstead, northwest London, has worked in the financial services industry after retraining in business studies.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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