11 years minimum for father who murdered baby

Thursday 15 January 2009 17:30 GMT

An angry father dropped his baby boy down the stairs, causing fatal head injuries, a court heard today.

Alfie Goddard was just three-months-old when he died at Sheffield Children's Hospital in May last year.

Alfie had suffered head injuries consistent with "squeezing by vigorous shaking followed by the child impacting on the floor".

His 24-year-old father, Craig Goddard, has already admitted the child's murder and was jailed for life today with a minimum term of 11 years at Sheffield Crown Court today.

The boy's mother, Lindsay Harris, 19, has already admitting perverting the course of justice.

The court was told today Craig Goddard suffered from anger management issues.

Details of the child's death were outlined in court today by prosecuting barrister Simon Jackson QC.

He said Goddard gave varying accounts to police officers about how his son had died.

In one interview he said: "Alfie must have fallen down the stairs when I had blacked out at the top of the stairs and Alfie must have gone down the stairs."

In another interview, Goddard said he did not mean to do anything and the youngster would not settle. "I just got frustrated, I didn't mean to hurt him. I've just got this anger thing, I didn't mean to hurt him. I just lost my temper."

The local authority where Alfie lived has come under fire in recent days after it emerged that seven youngsters have died in the area since late 2004 in cases involving abuse or neglect.

Serious case reviews have been commissioned to find out what mistakes were made in each incident.

The death of Alfie, who came from the Toll Bar area of Doncaster, is one of the cases being looked into.

Mr Jackson told the court that in later interviews Goddard accepted being responsible for Alfie's death.

He said: "He rocked him too hard and too fast and squeezed him too hard because of the pain he felt in his head. He dropped Alfie in shock when he realised how hard he was squeezing."

Mr Jackson said Goddard had claimed to have been in a bad mood all day and was frustrated when his son would not settle.

Goddard accepted that his earlier account of not intending to hurt the baby was untrue, he added.

"He dropped Alfie to the floor intending to cause him really serious harm," Mr Jackson said.

The barrister told the court Harris had been interviewed by police six times and had maintained her story that she had found Alfie at the bottom of the stairs.

She continued with this version even after Goddard had been charged with murder, he said.

But she later pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice on the basis that she had "deliberately lied to emergency services, police, medical staff at the hospital and in interview".

Mr Jackson said: "She lied to protect Goddard from the possible consequences of his actions."

In mitigation for Goddard, Peter Kelson QC told the court Alfie's death could not have been prevented and that social services could not be blamed.

Mr Kelson said: "This is a case without a headline because this is not a tragedy that could have been anticipated with the best intentions of social services or anybody else."

He continued: "It was a case of a parent doing the best he could, losing his temper at a difficult time."

Mr Kelson said Goddard had not intended to kill Alfie.

"He was so horrified he dropped the baby, not out of spite or hatred but out of horror of what had occurred."

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