Woman on trial for murdering daughter, aged three

THE trial of a Camber woman accused of killing her three-year-old daughter is due to start at Lewes Crown Court today (Friday).

Lesley Dunford, 33, is charged with murdering Lucy Dunford at their former Pelwood Road family home eight years ago on February 2, 2004.

She was arrested at her home in Devon last year and taken to Brighton where she was charged by Sussex Police.

The charge followed an inquiry by the force’s major crime branch after East Sussex coroner Alan Craze halted an inquest into Lucy’s death in January 2009 to enable police to investigate the background to her death.

Three post-mortem examinations were conducted on the youngster, some by a Home Office pathologist. They found she died from asphyxia caused by the forced blockage of her airways.

In September last year, Dunford, from Devon, pleaded not guilty to murder during a plea and case management hearing.

The case was due to get underway on Tuesday, but Judge Richard Brown adjourned it for legal argument. It is due to satrt today at 10.30am.

Dunford, of Rydal Mews, Windermere Close, Exeter, is on conditional bail.

The inquest in 2009 heard from Camber Vicar the Reverend Lucy Murdoch, who was one of the first to see Lucy after being called by Lesley. She performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

She told the inquest that on the day of Lucy’s death she had received a phone call from a distraught Mrs Dunford

When she arrived at the house she told Mrs Dunford to dial 999, and then rushed upstairs to Lucy’s bedroom. She found the child lying on her side on her bed, partially clothed and with the lower part of her body underneath her duvet cover.

She said she was reassured when she felt the child was warm to the touch and there was colour in her cheeks and lips - but then she noticed she was not breathing.

Shortly after, neighbour Ann Humphries came to take over the resuscitation, until the paramedics arrived.