Claudia Martins gets Community Order for manslaughter

Claudia Martins gets Community Order for manslaughter

Photo from the BBC


On 15th April 2015 Claudia Martins was acquitted of the murder of her new born child, but convicted of manslaughter. She was sentenced the next day to a Community Order for two years with a Supervision requirement.



It seems that Ms Martins had kept her pregnancy a secret from her friends and family and, after giving birth in her sister’s flat, killed her daughter by stuffing toilet paper in her mouth. She later  hid the body in a suitcase.

Ms Martins was found by her friends in the bath with a lot of blood. Paramedics were called and she was taken to hospital. Three days later the police were called as there was a smell emanating from the flat. There they found the child’s body in the suitcase.



Sentences for manslaughter are hugely varied, from life imprisonment to a Conditional Discharge. Here, the sentence is clearly very much towards the lower end of the possible range.

The Judge stated that Ms Martins “suffered from a mental abnormality, arising from a condition known as a pathological denial of pregnancy. Her actions were “wholly out of character” and her “intellectual disability” had probably contributed to her condition“.

Killings by anyone are mercifully rare, and those by women obviously rarer. Although many people will find the sentence very low, it must be remembered that this was a case of manslaughter not murder. It seems a compassionate, but sensible and fair, way of dealing with this case.

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. I’m not saying the sentence was wrong – but I think she was fortunate in her judge. The concealment of the body would have led many judges to decide that custody was unavoidable.

    I agree, L-E-S – a horrible tragedy.

  2. “Pathological denial of pregnacy” is that one of those new made up illnesses that seem to come from those practicing in the mental illness field ? Perhaps Mr X has a patholoical denial of speeding and should therefore be spared custody ?

    Agree with Andrew that hiding the body does not look good and she’s been a tad fortunate.

  3. Not going to be a popular post to many I am sure but I cannot help but draw a parallel between two situations.
    Do this just after the baby was born and people complain about the sentence being too lenient.
    Do it a few months before birth, and it is legal.

  4. Anon: If you want to turn the clock back to before 1967 you are – I am glad to say – spitting (pardon the euphemism) into the wind.