Introduction and facts
Emma Wilson (25) was convicted in December 2013 of the murder of Callum, her 11 month old son, in March 2011. On 24th January 2014 she was sentenced. The only sentence that could be passed was life imprisonment, but the Judge set the tariff at 14 years.
Callum died to a brain injury. It is not clear exactly how this was inflicted, but additionally, “Callum had suffered fractures to nine ribs, his right arm and left leg and had bruising across his face and body.” At the trial, Ms Wilson claimed that these had been caused by Callum’s elder brother, but this was rejected by the jury.
The motive for the murder is unclear and it seems that Ms Wilson had been a good mother to her older son. The prosecution accepted that Ms Wilson did not intend to kill her son (but instead to cause him really serious harm). There was (perhaps surprisingly) no indication of mental illness.
Our factsheet on life sentences is here. The starting point would be one of 15 years (and there was no discount for a plea of guilty). The violence and breach of trust would appear to be an aggravating feature. Ms Wilson had never been in trouble before which, whilst a mitigating feature, has been said to be of little significance in cases such as murder.
For that reason, it is not clear why the tariff was reduced by one year. Given that Ms Wilson will be in her 40s by the time that she is released, it is unlikely that she would present a threat to anyone, but the sentence would appear to be a merciful one. If there is an appeal (or the sentencing remarks are published) we will re-visit this one to go into more detail.