Tuesday, 27 Oct 2020

Father who killed baby son after ‘losing temper and self control’ jailed for nine years

A father who killed his baby son after admitting he lost his temper and self-control has been jailed for nine years.

Two-month old Cody, described as “healthy and happy”, died in hospital two days after paramedics were called to his home near Bamford, Derbyshire, in June last year.

A court was told his mother was visiting a nearby post office with her father during the attack.

Anton Shields, 39, of Hardwick Crescent, Athersley South, Barnsley, pleaded guilty last week to the manslaughter of his son and was sentenced at Derby Crown Court on Tuesday.

Opening the case against him, prosecutors said Cody suffered a “devastating” head injury while in the sole care of his father.

Jonas Hankin QC told the court: “The prosecution case is that, unable to settle him, the defendant became frustrated with Cody and assaulted him, causing fatal head injuries”.

Offering mitigation, defence QC Nicholas Clarke said Shields, who has suffered from anxiety and depression, viewed the offence as “inexplicable”, but conceded he had lost his temper and self-control.

Mr Clarke told the court: “For those vital, tragic seconds he behaved in the way which the prosecution describes.”

The court was told Shields had initially claimed his son had suffered a “spontaneous collapse” while feeding and later said he had found him struggling to breathe after briefly leaving him alone.

Passing sentence, the judge told Shields neither account was true.

Ruling Cody was subjected to violent shaking and a significant impact on a “semi-yielding” surface, the judge said: “You, Anton Shields, did violence to him that killed him, when he was alone in your care for a brief period.

“He was unsettled and did not feed properly, probably in response to his vaccinations that morning.”

Although the judge accepted Shields did not intent to kill or even cause serious harm, he told him: “You did a horribly dangerous thing that had a terrible consequence.”

Before lifting a reporting restriction that prevented the media from naming Cody, the judge said it was clear his mother and other family members “remain haunted” at his loss.

“The court can only wish her and her family well and hope that their pain will ease,” the judge continued.

“In her words, losing Cody ripped her life apart and devastated her whole family.

“You did not have the courage to admit what happened until the day before you were due to stand trial.

“You have never given an open and honest account, as you sought to avoid the responsibility for Cody’s death that is yours and yours alone.”

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