Tuesday 23 January 2018

Murder trial shown clips of baby being kicked, tortured

Pat Hurst in London

Shocking video clips taken by a man slapping and kicking a crying 15-month-old boy he later allegedly murdered were shown to a court yesterday.

Jurors held hands over their mouths as they watched the clips taken on a mobile phone as the screams and cries of baby Charlie Hunt rang out in the hushed courtroom.

Darren Newton (32), from Earby, Lancashire, took the videos for his "pleasure" and "satisfaction" as over a number of months he abused his girlfriend's young son, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Newton hid his "dark and wicked side" to film the graphic clips while Charlie's mother, Laura Chapman, was out of the house and the factory worker was left alone with the baby.

Titles of the series of clips included 'Crying, no toys in pen, ahhhh', 'Squeezing toe in cot', 'Two minutes of pain' and 'Shivering no water', taken when Charlie was naked in an empty bath.

In one graphic clip, titled 'Happy Slap' taken two weeks before Charlie died, and a precursor, the prosecution alleges, to the fatal attack, Newton is seen to slap the child 12 times on the head as he screams.

As tears rolled down the cheeks of the sobbing youngster, Newton is seen forcing his finger into the tot's ear then roughly twisting the ear as Charlie raises his hand in defence.

The clip ends with the crying child being kicked on the floor.

Two weeks later, Charlie was taken to hospital and died from head injuries in what the prosecution claims was a final, fatal attack. Charlie was found to have severe brain injuries, including swelling and bleeding to his brain and damage and bleeding to his eyes.

Newton pleaded guilty to 12 counts of child cruelty but denies two counts of child cruelty and the murder of Charlie on November 19 last year.

Dennis Watson said Newton "took pleasure from the fact Charlie was suffering from cruel and wicked behaviour".

Opening the case for the prosecution, Mr Watson continued: "Between June last year and November last year, Darren Newton, this defendant in the dock, carried out repeated assaults and other acts of cruelty on a young boy, Charlie Hunt, who was barely a year old.

"Not only did he do that he filmed himself doing it on his mobile phone."

Ms Chapman met Newton in early 2009, after moving in next door to him, where he lived with his parents in Earby.

And though he was not the father, it appeared he got on well with Charlie, but he was also "protective" and "private" about his mobile phone.

"The sad truth was whatever the outward appearances, they hid a dark and wicked side to the defendant which only surfaced when he was alone with Charlie," Mr Watson added. "That side of him was only discovered after Charlie had died."

In months leading up to his death, Charlie was taken to hospital suffering from vomiting and "fits" but was discharged.

But on November 19 last year, Newton was again left alone with the youngster. He had finished his 6am to 2pm shift at a local factory and was home by 2.30pm.

By 4.30pm, as Charlie deteriorated, he went next door for help and, as his father gave mouth-to-mouth to the child, he called an ambulance.


Charlie appeared limp and was struggling to breathe. He was rushed to Airedale Hospital, West Yorkshire, but was pronounced dead at 5.45pm.

Doctors noticed he had bruises on his right eyelid, right cheek and right big toe, the court heard.

Newton later told police he played with the child but when he went to change his nappy noticed his eyes were "glazed".

He said the boy looked like he had had a fit but tests by doctors showed Charlie had suffered massive head trauma.

During a post-mortem, which concluded head injuries as the cause of death, the pathologist noticed brain trauma, suspended the procedure and called in more specialist medics to assess the damage to the child.

The child was found to have suffered extensive bleeding to his retina and brain, swelling to the brain and deep bruising to the top of the head.

There was also an area of "dead" brain tissue and some of the injuries dated back to the period when Charlie had been taken to hospital suffering "fits", according to medical experts.

A Home Office pathologist concluded the injuries were deliberately inflicted and not caused by a fit or convulsion.

"Those head injuries are completely inconsistent with the defendant's explanation of a fit," Mr Watson added.

"On the contrary, the injuries are consistent with Charlie being struck on the head in a very similar manner to that seen in the previous video clip, 'Happy Slap' two weeks earlier. Charlie had been hit and hit shortly before he died."

With the findings, Newton was arrested and detectives examined his mobile phone, finding the clips he had taken during the abuse.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Irish Independent

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