Father jailed for leaving baby to die in squalor

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The Independent Online
A FATHER was jailed for seven years yesterday for killing his 15-month-old baby son, who died covered in sores in a urine-soaked pram.

The child's mother may be sent to a probation hostel after the jurors in the couple's trial at the Old Bailey last month wrote to the judge, asking him to show her mercy.

The 44-year-old man and his wife, 37, from Islington, north London, were both convicted of manslaughter. The father was also found guilty of cruelty to three of his other children.

The jury wrote to the judge: 'This case had placed particular burdens on us. While we thought we returned the correct verdicts, there was an overwhelming feeling of sympathy for the mother.'

In court yesterday, Judge Geoffrey Grigson said he had taken into account the jury's plea and remanded the mother, aged 37, for 28 days for assessment to see if she was suitable for accommodation in a hostel. 'You are clearly a person who desperately needs help,' he told her.

'I accept that you loved your children and that your baby died as a result of a combination of your limited mental and physical capacities - coupled with burdens placed on you with which you simply could not cope.'

The mother had an IQ lower than 98 per cent of the population and was within a mild mental handicap range. She was also partially disabled.

She and her husband had received help from an Islington social services worker, but she was on strike for months leading up to the baby's death. None of the children had been put on an 'at risk' register.

During the trial, the jury was told that the baby lay ignored in a pram in his parents' bedroom, tied into his sodden baby clothes. Eventually, he developed ulcers and a nappy rash over 35 per cent of his body. He contracted blood poisoning, lapsed into a coma and died from pneumonia.

Judge Grigson told the husband: 'You controlled the lives of every member of your family . . . money which should have been used for clothing, food and hot water was spent by you, often for your own needs. You were given a newly refurbished house - you allowed it to become a stinking pit.'

Islington Area Child Protection Committee said yesterday that following the case it was 'determined to take vigorous action to improve the protection of children in Islington'. It has commissioned an independent review - to report in public by late summer - to consider if 'this tragic death' could have been prevented.