Man jailed for life over brutal murder of baby son
A father was jailed for life yesterday after he was unanimously convicted of murdering his 14-week-old son.
The Belfast Crown Court jury of four men and eight women deliberated for just under four hours before convicting 26-year-old Ryan Leslie of murdering and causing grievous bodily harm to his son Cameron Jay Leslie in September 2008.
The forewoman shook with emotion as she announced the jury's damning verdicts on Leslie, who stood in the dock of Court 12 shaking his head in denial and disbelief.
As the guilty verdicts were announced, Cameron's mother Sheree Black, granny Margaret Black and other family members who had sat through every day of the five-week trial, clapped and cheered.
Jailing Leslie for life, Mr Justice Stephens told the convicted killer: "Your defence involved the proposition that you were a victim wrongly accused and that you were also a grieving father who deserved sympathy.
"The truth was that you brutalised and murdered a 14-week-old baby, your son, and for the offence of murder, I sentence you to life imprisonment."
Speaking outside the court, Ms Black said: "I will never, ever, ever forgive Ryan Leslie for what he has done and I will never ever forget it. There will always be a hole in my heart where Cameron was."
Baby Cameron was rushed first to Antrim Area Hospital and then to the intensive care unit at the Royal Children's Hospital on September 4, 2008, where, tragically, doctors turned off his life support the following day, the court was told.
There were numerous bruises to both Cameron's arms, legs, torso, throat and chin, and he had suffered 14 rib fractures.
A pathologist said in his opinion the rib fractures "could not have been sustained accidentally" and were probably caused by his chest being "forcibly grasped or squeezed".
Leslie was looking after baby Cameron on the Tuesday and Wednesday before he died and it was revealed that the night before he took custody of his child, Leslie had tried to hang himself in the bedroom of his flat in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.
Ms Black had given evidence that if she had known about his suicide attempt, Leslie would never have been given Cameron to look after.