A doctor was led sobbing from a courtroom yesterday after being cleared of the manslaughter of a baby who died of head injuries eight hours after being born.

Dr Mohie El-Khadem was helped from Birmingham Crown Court by a member of his legal team after a jury cleared him of killing Olivia Rowlings following a two-week trial.

The jurors, who took five hours to reach their unanimous verdict, took the unusual step of passing a note to the judge asking him to express their sympathy to the family of Olivia, who died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in Shropshire in May, 2002.

Egyptian-born ElKhadem, from Prestbury Avenue, Newcastle-under-Lyme, denied manslaughter through gross negligence, telling the court that he had not panicked while delivering the child using a suction device and forceps.

Addressing the court after El-Khadem had been discharged from the dock, Mr Justice Langstaff said the jury had shown "obvious care" in reaching its decision.

The judge excused the jury members from jury service for the next five years.

The child's parents, Julie and Neil Rowlings, declined to comment on the outcome of the case, but their lawyer, David Battisby, read a statement on their behalf.

Mr Battisby said the couple, from Telford, were "upset and disappointed" with the verdict. Mr and Mrs Rowlings had already been successful in claiming damages from the trust which runs the hospital.