Inquiry over baby murdered by mother’s boyfriend

Picture: Police ScotlandPicture: Police Scotland
Picture: Police Scotland
A FATAL accident inquiry is to be held in April into the tragic death of a baby girl, murdered seven years ago by her mother’s boyfriend.

Six-week-old Alexis Matheson died at an Edinburgh hospital in December, 2007, after sustaining 40 injuries inflicted during her short life.

Her mother’s boyfriend, Mark Simpson, was jailed for a minimum of 20 years in November, 2010, after being convicted of murdering baby Alexis by shaking her to death.

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He had denied murdering Alexis by assaulting her between November and December 2007, seizing hold of her, shaking her and compressing her chest, leaving her so severely injured that she died.

Simpson had claimed during the trial the baby’s mother, Illona Sheach, had played a game called “fishy” where she lay on the floor and held Alexis above her, regularly shaking the baby without supporting her head. Ms Sheach told the jury she would not have done anything to harm her child.

At the conclusion of his trial at the High Court in Aberdeen, the judge, Lord Uist, took the unusual step of publicly criticising the care the “helpless infant” had received at Woodside Medical Group in Aberdeen, saying he had “serious concerns” that her death could have been prevented.

The court was told the baby had been subjected to a series of brutal attacks that had left her with brain damage and broken ribs. She had sustained as many as 40 injuries over a number of weeks.

She had been prescribed three types of drugs over the phone by doctors without ever being examined in person, while signs of abuse had been overlooked.

But in September, 2012, a “significant case review” into the baby’s death, commissioned by the North East Scotland Child Protection Committee, cleared health professionals of blame.

Howard Llewellyn, the chief officer of Tayside community justice authority, who headed the review, stated in his report: “I conclude that her death was not predictable from the information available to practitioners. Whether it would have been preventable is more problematic, given the evidence presented at trial.

“I conclude that, although her injuries may have been treatable in the few days before her death, her survival was possible rather than probable. I do not therefore conclude that her death would have been prevented.”

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The Crown Office has now ordered a fatal accident inquiry into the baby’s death which is due to begin a Aberdeen Sheriff Court on 22 April. It is expected to last three weeks.

Jailing Simpson in November, 2010, Lord Uist, told Simpson: “This crime did not consist of a single incident arising from a sudden loss of temper on your part but of a repeated course of violence directed at a wholly defenceless and vulnerable baby whom you should have been caring for and protecting.

“How you were able to act in such a wicked and abhorrent manner towards a helpless infant is beyond the understanding of all right-thinking people. You have also shown no remorse and even sought falsely to lay the blame for the injuries on the mother of baby Alexis.”

The Law Lord added: “The pain and agony which baby Alexis must have suffered as a result of the injuries which you inflicted upon her are unthinkable.”