In the Media

Judges free mother who jumped into river with her baby

PUBLISHED February 15, 2007

A young mother jailed for 18 months after trying to kill herself and her child by jumping 100ft from a bridge has been freed from prison by the Court of Appeal as "an act of mercy".

Angela Schumann

The judges said Schumann had an 'aberration'. Below: her empty pram triggered the rescue

Angela Schumann

Angela Schumann, 28, of Leeds, plunged from the Humber Bridge with her daughter, Lorraine Tumalan-Schumann, in June 2005.

Schumann pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced at Hull Crown Court last November.

But at the Court of Appeal in London, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, sitting with Mr Justice David Clarke and Mr Justice Irwin, allowed her appeal against sentence.

She was not present in court to hear Lord Phillips quash the prison term and substitute it with a community sentence with a three-year supervision order.

Lord Phillips ruled that her case was one in which the court could "apply mercy".

The decision to release Schumann came the day after the Lord Chief Justice, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said courts should avoid jailing prisoners who pose no risk to the public.

Allowing the appeal, he said: "We have asked ourselves, is it really necessary, or was it really necessary to send this unhappy woman to prison to punish her for the momentary aberration which led her to try to take her own and her child's life?

"We say momentary because the moment she hit the water she came to her senses and shouted for help."

She then kept her child afloat "for some 45 minutes", saving the lives "she had tried to end".

Lord Phillips said: "There is one word that you will not read in the sentencing guidelines and that is 'mercy'.

"There are occasions where the court can put the guidelines and authorities on one side and apply mercy instead.

"We have reached the conclusion that this is such a case and accordingly we shall quash the sentence of imprisonment and substitute a community sentence with a three-year supervision order."

At the time of the incident the child was just three days short of her second birthday.

A dramatic rescue operation was sparked after a child's pushchair was found on a bridge walkway and the pair were eventually dragged from the water near the south tower after clinging to a lifebelt.

Sentencing her last November, the Recorder of Hull, Judge Michael Mettyear, said: "This is one of the most difficult cases I have ever had to deal with.

"It is difficult because, on the one hand, you are an intelligent woman, you have no previous convictions and you pleaded guilty at the very first opportunity.

"On the other hand, your conduct was very likely to kill your child.

"Of the 85 or so people who are known to have jumped off the Humber Bridge, I was told that 80 died.

"It was a remarkable piece of luck that you and she survived relatively unscathed."

He said there was evidence to show that the act was premeditated, including writing on Schumann's stomach seen when she was dragged from the water which read: "Cause of death: Julio".

The court had heard that Schumann's marriage to her husband, Julio Tumalan Nava, had broken down in the summer of 2004 and he had later taken custody of the child after a battle in the family courts.