THE long-running police probe into the deaths of two Accrington babies within a year of each other looks set to finally be brought to a conclusion.
Police launched an investigation in September 1999 following the death of three-month-old Toby Woods, then living with his parents Donna Hanson and Robert Woods in Pendle Street.
They also re-opened the case of his brother Ashley who had died nine months earlier aged 10 months. An inquest on Ashley decided he had died from "unascertainable natural causes''.
An inquest into Toby's death has been adjourned time after time pending the outcome of a number of reports. It is down for mention again on 24 April. Miss Hanson, then 23, was repeatedly interviewed by police but no charges were ever brought.
Strong parallels were drawn with the case of the Cheshire solicitor Sally Clark, who last week was freed on appeal after being jailed for life in 1999 for murdering two of her babies.
Consultant paediatrician Rory Meadows was involved in both investigations. He told the original Clark trial that the chances of two cot deaths in the same family were 73 million to one. The appeal heard that the true figure was only 8,500 to one.
Last year police made an application to the High Court for the disclosure of documents in a bid to move the case forward. They have now received the documents and have forwarded them to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will decide whether any charges should be brought.
Detective Inspector Jim Elston said this week that while police were interested in the Sally Clark judgement, the Toby Woods case should be considered in its own right.
He added: "The Sally Clark case is different and obviously this case will be looked at on its own merits. But the Sally Clark ruling is a powerful judgement and we will be looking at what was said in the appeal court.
DI Elston added: "I am hoping that the CPS will come to a swift decision on whether there are sufficient new grounds to take this case forward.''
Mr Ian Rushton. district crown prosecutor at the CPS, confirmed that they had received more documents from the police about the case. He said: "We're looking at the paperwork that the police have submitted this week and will be advising them within the next few days of our views.''
It is believed factory workers Mr Woods and Miss Hanson have since split up. A man answering the door at the house in Pendle Street this week said Miss Hanson no longer lived there.