Mum killed daughter after making Google searches about suffocating babies

A mum who killed her "happy and healthy" daughter after making Google searches about suffocating babies has had her prison sentence increased.

Caitlin Jones, 22, attacked eight-month-old Francesca Haworth at a property in Blackpool in November 2018.

She was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital for treatment but was later pronounced dead.

A Home Office post-mortem examination found she had died from asphyxiation.

Jones, 22, admitted manslaughter and was jailed for five years and eight months at Preston Crown Court 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, June 16.

Jones, attending the hearing via video link from HMP Styal in Cheshire, appeared emotional and was 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.

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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.

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”.

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.”

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.

“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,” Lady Justice Macur said.

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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.”

If you have been affected by issues of domestic violence or coercive control you can call Refuge's 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free. The number is 0808 2000 247

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