Following the forensic timeline in the Lesley Dunford manslaughter trial

Lesley Dunford
Lesley Dunford

It was eight years before Dunford was convicted of killing Lucy despite being arrested days after her death in February 2004.

This is how the incredibly detailed forensic investigations, that were carried out between the time of Lucy’s death and Dunford subsequently being charged with murder in July 2011, finally led to her conviction this week.

In February 2004 Home office pathologist and expert on child deaths Dr Anthony Risdon carries out an investigation and finds numerous petechial pinpoint haemorrhages which indicate Lucy could have been suffocated.

He later changes his mind after finding ingested food particles deep in her lungs which he says could indicate a natural cause of death due to her inhaling vomit.

In 2005 East Sussex County Council Social Services bring in their own pathologist and as a result of his findings Dunford’s other daughter is taken into care.

Microbiological tests reveal the presence of a small amount of the potentially lethal streptococcal virus in Lucy’s spleen and lungs. But no trace is found in her blood and experts say it would not have been enough to cause her rapid death.

Pathologist Dr Juravich conducts an examination and finds deep bruising beneath Lucy’s skin on dissection.

She says she is sure that this occurred before death and said there was evidence of neck compression caused by a hand or the child’s face being pushed into a soft object such as a pillow. She rules out a natural death.

In February 2009 an inquest into Lucy’s death is held at Hastings. It is halted by coroner Alan Craze who calls for more investigation into how the little girl died

Top pathologist and expert on asphyxiation Dr Nathanial Carey is asked by Sussex Police to review the case. He says that in his opinion the tiny burst blood vessels found in Lucy’s face could only have been caused by someone interfering in the normal mechanics of her breathing – in other words suffocating her.

Following a meeting of experts in 2010 Professor Risdon agrees with his colleagues and rules out the infection model saying that it would be too quick to have been possible to cause the rapid death of a three and a half year old.

He also confirmed that the lack of blood from Lucy’s head wound would suggest that the injury happened close to or at the same time as her death.