Toddler was 'beaten to death at flat'

 

A two-year-old boy was found beaten to death at the home of his mother's boyfriend after suffering months of ill-treatment, a murder trial jury has heard.

Keanu Williams, whose body showed 37 external marks of injury, was found dead in January 2011 by an ambulance crew called to a flat in Birmingham, the city's Crown Court was told.

The Crown alleges that Keanu was killed in the care of his mother Rebecca Shuttleworth and her boyfriend, Luke Southerton.

Southerton, 31, and 24-year-old Shuttleworth, formerly of Hay Mills, Birmingham, both deny murder, causing or allowing the death of a child and child cruelty.

Opening the case for the Crown, prosecutor Christopher Hotten QC alleged that Keanu's fatal injuries were inflicted after he arrived with his mother to stay at Southerton's flat in Old Moat Way, Ward End, on January 7, 2011.

Mr Hotten told jurors Keanu's body was found after Southerton dialled 999 at 7.42pm on January 9.

In the call, Southerton claimed that Keanu, known to his family as Kiwi, had stopped breathing, was pale, and had not been well all day.

A first responder, David Sheldon, arrived seven minutes after the call was made and found Keanu, who the prosecution allege had already died from internal bleeding.

During his opening speech, Mr Hotten told the court: "We say he was undoubtedly dead. He was not breathing, there was no pulse, the pupils of his eyes were fixed and dilated.

"Mr Sheldon carried Kiwi straight out to a waiting ambulance."

The boy was taken to Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital where death was formally pronounced at 8.30pm.

Claiming that Keanu's injuries were not an "isolated event" but had been the culmination of months of ill-treatment, Mr Hotten added: "No medical help was sought for this child until he was dead.

"The fact that neither (defendant) sought help until it was too late is potent evidence that both knew the injuries were incapable of sensible explanation.

"It is also, we say, potent evidence that both were in it together. We say each is criminally responsible for the injuries that caused his death."

Asking how it was that Keanu came to die, Mr Hotten went on: "The answer, sadly, is that he had been beaten to death.

"From the start (medical staff) were alarmed by the bruising they saw to his body."

The majority of the bruising found by pathologists was to the lower chest and abdomen, but there were also areas of bruising to the head and back.

Mr Hotten further alleged that a pathologist had identified "tramline" bruising consistent with Keanu having been struck with an object such as a stick or rod with some force.

A fist-sized tear was also found in part of Keanu's abdomen, which had caused substantial bleeding, the court heard.

Mr Hotten added: "We say that any competent carer would have realised that he was profoundly unwell and would have called an ambulance.

"It was the effect of this injury, over a period of 24-48 hours, which was the main cause of his death."

The trial, which may last for up to 11 weeks, was adjourned until tomorrow.

PA

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