Monday 17 December 2018

Man convicted of manslaughter of 'beautiful' three-month-old son

Alistair Walker blamed paramedics for the fatal injuries he inflicted on his son
Photo: Gloucestershire Police
Alistair Walker blamed paramedics for the fatal injuries he inflicted on his son Photo: Gloucestershire Police

Claire Hayhurst

THE parents of a three-month-old baby boy who died after being shaken and submerged in water have been convicted in relation to his death.

Alistair Walker, 27, blamed paramedics for the fatal injuries he inflicted on his son, Ah'Kiell Walker, at home in Gloucester in July 2016.

He was convicted of manslaughter while Ah'Kiell's mother, Hannah Henry, 22, was found guilty of causing or allowing the death.

They were also convicted of child cruelty, relating to four broken ribs and a fractured shoulder Ah'Kiell suffered in his short life.

A jury of eight women and four men returned their unanimous verdicts following a five-week trial at Bristol Crown Court.

The judge, Sir John Royce, said the "harrowing features" of the case meant the panel would now be exempt from jury service for 15 years.

Ah'Kiell's mother, Hannah Henry, was found guilty of causing or allowing the death
Photo: Gloucestershire Police
Ah'Kiell's mother, Hannah Henry, was found guilty of causing or allowing the death Photo: Gloucestershire Police

He adjourned sentencing of Walker, from London, and Henry, from Gloucester, until June 1.

Speaking after the case, Chief Inspector Richard Pegler, of Gloucestershire Police, described Ah'Kiell as "a beautiful baby boy".

"I would like to pay tribute to the paramedics and other medical professionals in this case who clearly did their very best for Ah'Kiell. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous in my view," he said.

"Although many would not want to think it, the sad reality is that Henry and Walker were responsible for Ah'Kiell's death."

Ah'Kiell was naked, cold and soaking wet when paramedics arrived at the family home in Archdeacon Street just after 10am on July 30.

A paramedic described how he had to tip water out of the soaking wet baby's mouth and dry him off with a towel before using a defibrillator.

Medics were unable to record Ah'Kiell's temperature as it was so low and a scan showed he had suffered a catastrophic brain injury.

He was taking just four gasps per minute, instead of the 30-40 breaths expected for a normal baby, and his heartbeat was just 30 beats per minute.

Ah'Kiell died at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children at 1.44pm on July 31.

A post-mortem examination revealed that he had suffered four broken ribs and a fractured shoulder in the weeks before his death.

The baby's death was caused by a lack of oxygen to his brain through Walker shaking him and submerging him in water, potentially in the couple's bath.

Water may also have been poured down Ah'Kiell's throat through bottles that Walker had altered to increase the flow.

But during cross-examination, Walker claimed: "It was the paramedic that caused the brain injury. He was breathing when this paramedic came."

Police found that Walker had searched for "shaken baby syndrome", "can I squeeze my baby", "internal bleeding due to trauma" and "baby broken ribs" on his phone in June and July.

One search, on June 14, asked: "Can babies feel pain?", followed by "baby burst liver".

Neither parent sought medical attention for Ah'Kiell until Henry dialled 999 on the morning of July 30.

"The medical picture is of a baby who had been significantly injured during his short life before the event that caused his death," Andrew Langdon QC, prosecuting, said.

"It is inconceivable that one parent was responsible without the other one knowing."

Walker was "obsessed" that Ah'Kiell had constipation and would force feed him water to resolve this, Mr Langdon said.

Henry told friends she wanted to end her relationship with Walker by the time Ah'Kiell was nine or 10 weeks old.

In a text message to her mother, she wrote: "He's so horrible to Ah'Kiell", adding that he "couldn't handle Ah'Kiell crying".

Neighbours told the court they heard "terrible screaming" coming from the family home on July 24, 28 and 29.

The couple remained emotionless as the verdicts were returned, with Walker yawning as he was led to the cells.

Press Association

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