Years of campaigning on behalf of a former local nurse accused of shaking a child to death in the US has given the Windsor, Slough and Eton Express a world exclusive.
Editor Paul Thomas was granted the only interview Manjit Basuta gave on her return to the UK after a plea bargain with the US courts got her off a life sentence.
Thomas described the interview as “emotional”, with Basuta claiming she had needed to perjure herself by admitting the crime to get out of jail. She still maintains her innocence.
A maternity nurse in Slough before she went to San Diego, Basuta ran a daycare home for children for 10 years. One night, while watching television at the house of friends, she recognised her house on the screen and learnt the police were claiming she was a fugitive for whom they were searching after 13-month-old Oliver Smith was shaken to death while in her care.
The mother of three, a devout Sikh, was found guilty at her trial in 1999 and sentenced to 25 years or life imprisonment.
The Express campaigned vigorously for Basuta, believing she did not get a fair trial – the main prosecution witness, her housekeeper, changed her story 12 times and the little boy was discovered to have had a history of black-outs, said Thomas.
His four-page interview was relayed to the sister Trinity Mirror titles the Daily Mirror, the Birmingham Post and Evening Mail.
Thomas said Basuta was now planning to live permanently in Slough.
By Jean Morgan