A West Midlands couple jailed for killing a three year-old boy they had planned to adopt yesterday insisted they were the victims of a "gross miscarriage of justice".
Ian and Angela Gay were sentenced to five years' imprisonment after being convicted at Worcester Crown Court of the manslaughter of Christian Blewitt. It followed a trial in which it was claimed they had force-fed him salt.
They have now written to the BBC from their cells, insisting they were innocent and claiming the force-feeding allegation was never put to them until their trial began.
Christian and his two siblings were living on a trial placement with the Gays at the time of his death in 2002. The couple were planning to adopt all three.
It was alleged the Gays force- fed Christian four spoonfuls of salt as a punishment for misbehaviour.
In his letter to the BBC, Mr Gay wrote: "The prosecution never had any evidence that salt was ever given, other than what their expert witnesses guessed at."
The couple were cleared of murder, but Mr Gay said he was numb when the jury returned a guilty verdict for manslaughter.
"Our barristers had cautioned us to expect a verdict of manslaughter, as they knew that juries could behave in that way when the death of a young child is involved. Sometimes being innocent just isn't enough - the jury just want to blame somebody for what happened.
"We now have to prove our innocence. We will not rest until we have done that, and nor will our family."
Mrs Gay wrote: "For more than two years now, Ian and myself have been living a nightmare. All we ever wanted was a family of our own, yet we find ourselves in prison, the victims of a gross miscarriage of justice."
She added: "I couldn't accept that anyone truly believed that Ian or myself were capable of harming our own little boy.
"It was ludicrous that Ian or myself could be held responsible for Christian's death. For a brief time, he was our son - he called us mummy and daddy and we loved him."
They have won the support of Dr Peter Acland, who carried out one of a number of post mortems on Christian.
He said Christian died due to a high blood sodium level, but that this was "not necessarily" caused by the deliberate administration of salt.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today show: "He could have obtained the salt accidentally or else there may have been some disease process which none of us could elicit.
"As far as I am concerned, I have not heard evidence which convinces me that this child has been deliberately poisoned by the defendants."
The Gays' legal team has been joined by John Batt, who represented Sally Clark, the mother cleared on appeal of murdering two of her children.
Mr Batt told Today: "When substantially the only evidence was conflicting reports by well-qualified experts and there was no evidence of criminal activity, then these cases should not be brought."