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THE poignant and heart-rending pictures on our front page today tell their own story: two mothers with a common and terrible bond comforting each other outside Oxford Crown Court.

They were there to witness the sentencing of the people who killed their children in two unconnected cases.

First, Mehfooz Akhtar watched Mr Justice Robin Spencer sentence Fiaz Munshi to 13 years in prison for the manslaughter of her children Anum and Majid Khan in a 1997 arson attack.

Then Samantha Shrewsbury saw Judge Patrick Eccles give Ben Blakeley life in prison with a minimum term of 20 years for the murder of her daughter Jayden Parkinson.

Both women had suffered the loss every parent dreads and in the most brutal, horrifying manner.

Justice was done inside court. Outside, two ordinary women clung to each other for a few moments, knowing that their sentences will be far longer than those of Munshi and Blakeley.

There is, after all, no time off for good behaviour when a parent is grieving for the loss of a beloved child.

That is a real life sentence.