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Man pleads guilty to the manslaughter of his 14-day-old daughter

|News, Violent crime

A man has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his 14-day-old daughter in Plymouth in 1976.

While being treated at Salford Royal Hospital in June 2017, Terrence McArthur told two members of staff that he had killed a child in the 1970s and that it had been considered a cot death at the time.

The matter was referred to Devon and Cornwall Police, and their enquiries confirmed the death of McArthur’s daughter Tracy in Plymouth on 1 June 1976. They also revealed two additional occasions where McArthur had told someone that he was responsible for the death of a child, one in July 1982 and the other in May 2017.

The post mortem report from 1976 and a new statement from Tracy’s mother about the night when she died were assessed by a specialist in forensic and paediatric pathology, who concluded that the most likely cause of Tracy’s injuries was that she had been shaken.

McArthur was arrested in August 2020. He initially refused to comment on events relating to his daughter’s death and said that he had no recollection of admitting responsibility. In June 2021 McArthur pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter.

Andrew Pritchard of the CPS said: “Thanks to a thorough and sensitive police investigation the truth about what happened to Tracy was revealed over forty years after her death.

“It is always a challenge when so much time has passed since an offence, but where evidence comes to light we are committing to bringing offenders to justice despite the passage of time.

“This is a tragic case and I hope that this conviction will provide some comfort for Tracy’s mother”.

Notes to editors

  • Andrew Pritchard is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for the CPS South West Complex Casework Unit.

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