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Lesley Dunford, Mother On Trial For Murder, Speaks Of 'Shock' At Daughter's Death

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A mother spoke of her "complete and utter shock" at discovering her three-year-old daughter dead in her bed - six months after her young son also died at home.

Lesley Dunford, 33, said she found daughter Lucy face down in a pillow and with a cut above her left eyebrow when she went to check she was asleep.

She is accused of smothering the toddler to death at the former family home in Pelwood Road, Camber, near Rye, East Sussex, on February 2 2004.

Six months earlier Dunford's son Harley died when he was aged seven months in his cot on August 3 2003.

Today Dunford told Lewes Crown Court she could not believe tragedy had struck again following the death of Lucy.

She explained to jurors that she had put Lucy to bed at around 2pm after noticing she had a temperature before she returned downstairs to watch television.

Dunford said: "I went upstairs to go to the toilet and then I came out and went into the bedroom to check Lucy was still asleep. I saw her face down in the pillow.

"She wasn't moving. I was in complete and utter shock because this could not be happening twice. I turned her head to see if she was breathing. She was still warm but was stiff. She was rigid.

"She was mauve around the mouth and she had a cut above her left eyebrow. She wasn't breathing. I checked her pulse in her neck and then checked her wrist by taking her arm from underneath the duvet."

She went on: "I couldn't find a pulse."

Dunford said a strong smell struck her as she entered the bedroom and, after finding Lucy's lifeless body, she ran downstairs to fetch a telephone.

"I was very scared, very frightened," she said.

Lucy's death occurred on the same day that her husband, Wayne, 54, had returned to work following a 19-month spell of unemployment, the court heard.

Dunford conceded that she was "a bit nervous" about her husband going back to work, leaving her at home to look after Lucy alone, but she denied being depressed about it.

She said: "Before Wayne got his job we weren't able to take Lucy for days out because money was tight. We were now really looking forward to taking her on a nice holiday where she could have fun.

"I was a bit nervous about Wayne going back to work because he had been out of work for so long but we discussed it and after that I was really looking forward to him going back to work."

Dunford, now of Rydal Mews, Windermere Close, Exeter, Devon, denies murder.

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