Sunday 23 July 2017

Dad who killed son jailed for life

Baby suffered brain damage, broken ribs at hands of father

Deric Henderson

A FATHER who murdered his baby son was jailed for a minimum of 17 years yesterday.

Ryan Leslie (26) had already been convicted of killing 14-week-old Cameron Jay Leslie, who died in a Belfast hospital in September 2008 after suffering a series of severe injuries.

Mr Justice Ben Stephens told Leslie he was a violent individual who had shown no remorse for his crimes, and ruled he must serve a life sentence before being considered for release.

Last month, a jury unanimously found Leslie, from Ballyvesey Green, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, guilty of both murder and of causing his son grievous bodily harm.

During his six-week trial, it emerged that in an effort to stop his son crying, Leslie had squeezed him so hard that he fractured 14 of his ribs. He also inflicted a severe blow to the back of the baby's head, which caused brain injuries that led to his death.

He died days later in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Fractures

A post-mortem found that, as well as the rib fractures, the baby had suffered massive brain damage, retinal haemorrhages and bruising to many areas of his body.

Leslie inflicted the injuries weeks after he had split from Cameron's mother Sheree Black, when she allowed him to look after their son on certain nights at his flat.

In assessing the case, the judge told Belfast Crown Court that Leslie had breached the trust of a father-son relationship.

"Not only did you inflict horrific and fatal injuries on your son, but you failed to obtain the medical treatment that you knew he so desperately needed and you did this for your selfish ends," he said.

He said he had subsequently failed to help treating doctors by giving them a false account of what happened.

Leslie said his son had hit his head on his plastic bath and claimed the rib fractures occurred when he tried to perform CPR on him.

Manipulative

Describing him as a "dishonest and deeply manipulative individual", Mr Justice Stephens said Leslie's explanations to police were "preposterous and farcical".

The judge referred to victim impact statements from Cameron's mother and his grandmother Margaret Black.

"In essence, they were being asked the most difficult question as to what it is like to lose a son or a grandson in circumstances such as these," he said.

"I would observe that no judge could fail to be moved by their sensitive and eloquent statements in response.

"They do not have the consolation of an honest explanation from you as to what occurred and why it occurred.

"They do not have your acceptance of responsibility together with expressions of remorse," he added.

Irish Independent

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