Man who killed baby son is saved by wife's loyalty: Judge gives father a suspended sentence after woman tells of love and forgiveness

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The Independent Online
A MAN who killed his eight-week-old son walked away from a court with a suspended sentence yesterday. The judge told him: 'Your saviour is your wife. She has forgiven you, and so shall I'

Mr Justice Wright told 25-year-old David Graham: 'The right sentence to pass will be a two-year prison sentence, but I shall suspend that for two years.' The Maidstone Crown Court judge added: 'I wish you and your wife the very best of good fortune.'

Graham, a cabinet-maker from Folkestone, Kent, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his son, Ryan. The court was told that the baby died after being shaken by his father because he would not take his early morning bottle.

But his wife, Jennifer, a nurse, told the judge: 'I love him and have already forgiven him. There is no doubt in my mind that it was a complete accident. Our marriage has become strong again thanks to counselling.'

The judge leant forward to ask her: 'What do you want me to do with him?' Mrs Graham answered: 'I don't think I could cope if he went to prison.'

Anne Rafferty, for the prosecution, told the court that the couple had had financial problems for years and that when Mrs Graham unexpectedly became pregnant there were added worries.

'When Ryan was born, Jenny said David was overjoyed. When he was eight-weeks-old, Jenny returned to work on two nights a week,' Ms Rafferty said.

'It was on her second weekend of work that the incident happened.'

She said that when police officers interviewed Graham after the incident, he told them: 'Ryan woke up at about 5.30am. I changed him and I tried to feed him. When he wouldn't take the bottle I panicked and shook him. I did it out of selfish anger. I just wanted to stop him crying.

'I am sure my family will never forgive me. I would rather be shot than keep hurting them.'

After the sentence, the tearful couple clung to each other at the back of the court before being led out by friends.