In manslaughter trial 16 years after injuries sustained, Defendant, proves he did not cause the fatal injuries

In 1998, the Defendant’s 5 week old son sustained massive brain injuries, leading to cerebral palsy. The Defendant admitted having shaken him because he was fractious. In 1999, he pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, contrary to section 20. He did so on the advice of his lawyers and in light of the state of medical knowledge at that time. In 2011, his son died from those brain injuries. The Defendant’s trial for manslaughter was the longest period between the act alleged to have caused the injuries and the death in British legal history, following the abrogation of the year and a day rule by the Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996. As a result of that earlier guilty plea to section 20, the Defendant bore the legal burden to prove on balance of probabilities that his shake had not in fact caused the brain injuries, pursuant to section 74(3) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Relying on international experts to challenge the views of many domestic experts called by the prosecution, the Defendant’s case was that the injuries were probably the result of a cerebral sinous venous thrombosis and that this had made the baby fractious, leading to the Defendant briefly to shake him. His case was that the shake had not in fact caused any of the brain injuries. The jury acquitted the Defendant. 

 

Defendant, represented by Adrian Waterman QC, instructed by Hickman & Rose Solicitors.

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