Mother of tragic baby Andrew guilty of child cruelty

Tamika Beaton had denied neglecting Andrew Cawker and failing to protect him from her boyfriend.

Emily Pennink
Monday 24 October 2022 14:58 BST
Andrew Cawker (Family Handout/PA)
Andrew Cawker (Family Handout/PA)

A mother has been found guilty of cruelty towards her young son, who was killed by her boyfriend.

Tamika Beaton, 25, put “her own interests” before those of 18-month-old Andrew Cawker, with “catastrophic” consequences, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.

He was repeatedly attacked by Beaton’s partner, 24-year-old postman Scott Coombe, before his death on July 22 2019.

Coombe admitted manslaughter, child cruelty and assaulting the toddler on three occasions.

Beaton had denied neglecting Andrew and failing to protect him from her boyfriend.

But on Monday a jury found her guilty of cruelty to a person under the age of 16.

Judge Mark Lucraft KC ordered a pre-sentence report for Beaton and adjourned the case so she could be sentenced alongside Coombe on November 18.

She was putting her own interests before those of Andrew – with the most catastrophic consequences for Andrew

Prosecutor Sally O'Neill KC

Previously, the court had heard how Beaton had begun cheating on Andrew’s father, 31-year-old Ben Cawker, after meeting Coombe at a fitness class while trying to lose weight after the birth.

She had confirmed her relationship with Coombe by December 2018 and by March the following year Andrew began to show “regular bruising”, the court was told.

Prosecutor Sally O’Neill KC had said: “On July 9 2019 she had gone to a dance class, leaving Scott Coombe in charge of Andrew, knowing that he had done a full day’s work as a postman.

“He was willing to look after Andrew but the risks of allowing him to do so must have been obvious to Tamika Beaton, and she chose to disregard them as she had done on a number of previous occasions.”

Andrew had been due to start nursery, but Beaton did not take him because of the questions staff might ask about his bruises, the prosecutor said.

Coombe became “irritated”, shook and threw Andrew down, jurors heard.

The child hit his head on the floor and never regained consciousness, the court heard.

Coombe told emergency workers the youngster started “looking a bit stiff” and collapsed while playing.

Ms O’Neill said Coombe had admitted manslaughter on the basis that he became irritated, picked him up and “in a moment of anger and frustration, shook him vigorously backwards and forwards briefly and then threw him backwards”.

She said that before Andrew’s death it was apparent to his mother that he had “unexplained injuries” while in Coombe’s care.

Ms O’Neill said: “She and Andrew’s father, Ben Cawker, who saw him regularly, took photos of the injuries and even on one occasion took him to the doctors for his blood to be tested in case he was prone to easy bruising. He wasn’t.

“His bruises were as a result of being assaulted by Scott Coombe and it must have been obvious to Tamika Beaton that it was Scott Coombe who was doing it.

“Not only did she do nothing to protect Andrew from being injured by Scott Coombe, she tried to cover up the injuries by blaming Ben Cawker, his father, for causing them.”

When questioned by Mr Cawker, she attempted to explain away scratches on the toddler’s nose by saying he had sharp nails and had caused them himself.

On April 10 2019, Andrew’s father became “very concerned” when Beaton sent him a photo of injuries to the toddler’s ribs, the court heard.

But when he phoned her, she insisted it must have happened when Andrew was with him, and said she had been advised “by someone” not to let her son stay with him until the bruising had cleared.

Despite knowing Coombe was responsible, she continued to suggest the injuries were a result of the father not supervising Andrew properly, the court heard.

Ms O’Neill said: “She was putting her own interests before those of Andrew – with the most catastrophic consequences for Andrew.”

Following the guilty verdict, Beaton, from Peckham, south-east London, was granted continued conditional bail.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in