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.