June 2004

Three extra years for baby killer

A woman who was serving a life sentence for killing her two babies will serve three more years for the murder of another child.

Maxine Robinson, 36, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, admitted killing her first born child Victoria in 1989.

She made the admission during rehabilitation sessions at Durham Prison’s high-security women’s unit.

Robinson said she smothered the baby with a deflated balloon, which had until then been considered a cot death.

At Newcastle Crown Court, Mr Justice Clarke recommended she should serve a further three years.

‘Unable to cope’

Robinson was more than eight years into a life sentence for murdering 19-month-old Christine and Anthony, five months, when she made the confession.

In interviews with police she said she was unable to cope with Victoria, had been depressed and was criticised by her mother.

Her first child was from her marriage to Les Cope, whom she wed after a three-week romance. Christine and Anthony were from her marriage to second husband Peter.

Aidan Marron QC, prosecuting, said she told police her mother made her feel inadequate.

Robinson said: “I felt she was the mother and I was only allowed to be there, and even then it was begrudgingly.”

‘A timely reminder’

Franz Muller QC, defending, added: “She felt nothing she did had been good enough for her mother and that stifled her development into a normal, mature, responsible adult.”

Outside Newcastle Crown Court, a family supporter, who did not wish to be named, said Robinson’s mother, Ann Leggett, was a former nanny who knew a lot about childcare.

She said: “Her mother was always justifiably worried about the welfare of the child.”

Robinson was due to be eligible for parole in December next year for the murders of Christine and Anthony.

Extending her sentence by three years, the judge said the case was a “timely” reminder that “not all mothers in prison for killing their children are the victims of miscarriages of justice.”