Father 'drank vodka before causing baby son's death'

A 34-year-old man drank a bottle of vodka before causing the death of his 10-week-old son by inflicting severe injuries to his head, a court heard today.

Craig Tattum, 35, of Wimborne, Dorset, denies the manslaughter of baby Ethan at their home in Gordon Road, Wimborne, on July 4, 2008.

Jane Miller QC, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that at 1am that morning, Tattum's wife Louise dialled 999 and told ambulance control that their son had stopped breathing.

Ms Miller said that Tattum could be heard in a distressed state in the background, and when paramedics arrived he smelled of alcohol and was acting in a hysterical manner.

She added that the ambulance crew had to call in police officers because Tattum was acting "aggressively" towards them and was getting in the way as they attempted to resuscitate his son.

Ms Miller described how Ethan was taken to Poole General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 2am.

She said that staff at the hospital noted that Tattum continued to behave strangely before he was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter later that night.

Tattum, who works for a tool hire firm, was heard to tell doctors to "shake" Ethan and to "slap him on the bottom and back" to get him breathing, the court heard.

During a police interview, Tattum admitted drinking a 70cl bottle of vodka that night which he bought earlier in the evening.

Ms Miller explained that he had drunk the alcohol secretly outside of their home because his wife did not approve of his drinking.

The jury heard that Ethan suffered bruising to the face, internal bleeding to the head and spine and swelling to the brain.

Ms Miller said: "Mr Tattum quite clearly got drunk that evening and somehow he injured baby Ethan.

"He caused injuries to Ethan's face either by hitting him or hitting him against something. He also probably shook him.

"The head injuries were severe and caused Ethan's death.

"We do not say Mr Tattum intended to kill baby Ethan or intended to cause him serious harm but whatever he did do that evening, it caused him to die.

"He clearly assaulted him in some way and that assault any sober or reasonable person would realise would cause Ethan to sustain some harm."

Ms Miller said that Tattum, who had been looking after Ethan while his wife slept, denied assaulting his son and said that he had left his son on the sofa to make up a bottle to feed him with.

When he returned, Tattum claimed that Ethan's nose was bleeding and he stopped breathing a short time later, Ms Miller said.

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