Breaking news: Mother admits killing baby in Camber

Lesley Dunford Camber murder charge with her daughter Lucy ENGSUS00120120618092920
Lesley Dunford Camber murder charge with her daughter Lucy ENGSUS00120120618092920

A mother jailed for killing her three-year-old daughter has pleaded guilty to the earlier murder of her baby son 13 years ago.

Lesley Dunford, 37, was charged in October last year with the murder of seven-month-old Harley Dunford on August 27 2003.

Lesley Dunford Picture by Eddie Mitchell

Lesley Dunford Picture by Eddie Mitchell

He was found dead in his cot at the family’s former seaside home in Pelwood Road, Camber.

Dunford’s three-year-old daughter Lucy died six months later, on February 2 2004.

In June 2012, Dunford was jailed for seven years for Lucy’s manslaughter after Lewes Crown Court heard the child died from asphyxia caused by forced blockage of her airways.

On Friday, Dunford, formerly of Windermere Close, Exeter, Devon, appeared at the same court, in front of Mr Justice Singh, to plead guilty to Harley’s murder.

Alan Kent QC, defending, said he met Dunford at Wandsworth Prison in London on Wednesday, where he concluded she had a defence to the murder charge.

But after arriving at court on Friday, Dunford told him she intended to plead guilty - because she did not want to travel to court every day of a trial.

Mr Kent said: “That to me is not a good reason for a defendant to plead guilty and therefore we are submitting that it is an equivocal one.”

Mr Kent then asked for a brief adjournment to speak to Dunford, who sat rocking in her chair in the dock dressed in a T-shirt and wearing glasses.

Following the half-hour adjournment to discuss her case with her counsel, Dunford refused to come up to the courtroom from her cell, Mr Kent said.

Mr Justice Singh asked Mr Kent whether Dunford was aware of the consequences, to which he replied: “She does. I have spoken to her in clear and forthright terms about what will happen.”

The judge said: “In those circumstances, the only thing I can do is accept the plea and adjourn the case for sentencing.”

Mr Kent said he was confident no psychiatrist would consider her unfit to plea, adding: “It may be that the emotional turmoil is aggravating her but that, in my judgment, doesn’t make her unfit to plea.”

Prosecutor Philippa McAtasney QC did not open the details of the case, which was adjourned until March 18 for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports to be prepared.

She said: “So far as the Crown is concerned, we take the view that the defendant, having been properly advised, fully understands the court process.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2016, All Rights Reserved.

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