‘Death by salt poisoning’ verdict based on discredited medical paper – Angela and Ian Gay (2002)

High Court of Justice High Court of Justice

“A couple have been cleared of using salt to poison and kill a three-year-old boy they hoped to adopt.

Christian Blewitt collapsed at the couple’s home in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, in December 2002. Ian and Angela Gay, now of Halesowen, West Midlands, were found not guilty of manslaughter and child cruelty. The pair had previously been convicted of his manslaughter, but won a retrial because of new medical evidence which said the high salt levels were natural. Prosecutors at Nottingham Crown Court had claimed the couple had force-fed salt to the boy as a form of punishment.

But the pair’s defence team argued a rare medical condition caused Christian’s body to store toxic levels of salt. Two years ago the couple were jailed for five years after being convicted of manslaughter. They served 15 months of that sentence before a retrial was ordered in April last year and the couple were released on bail.

Leading barrister Michael Mansfield, QC said cases based on conflicting arguments from experts, such as this, should not be brought to court.

“You’re presenting a jury or a judge with an impossible task. How do you choose between accredited experts and I don’t think that that’s possible and I don’t think that those cases should be prosecuted in the first place.”


“In the 2005 trial of Ian and Angela Gay over the death of their adopted son Christian, the prosecution relied heavily upon [Sir Roy] Meadow’s 1993 paper “Non-accidental salt poisoning”, citing it many times throughout the trial. The judge also referred to the paper citing it five times during his summing up. Ian and Angela Gay were found guilty of manslaughter and spent 15 months in prison before their convictions were quashed.

In interviews for BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme, Professor Jean Golding and Professor Ashley Grossman both questioned the reliability of the Meadow paper. The naturally occurring condition diabetes insipidus was suggested as a more likely cause of an elevated salt level than deliberate salt poisoning.”


Retrial links

Original trial links

About INNOCENT (138 Articles)
Challenging miscarriages of justice since 1993.

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