Son died after being shaken by father, trial hears

Erica Francis said Young told her that he shook their baby. Picture: PAErica Francis said Young told her that he shook their baby. Picture: PA
Erica Francis said Young told her that he shook their baby. Picture: PA
A FATHER who caused “catastrophic brain injuries” to his newborn baby has gone on trial for manslaughter following the child’s death 12 years later.

Allan Young, 36, of Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, shook five-week-old Michael Winn in 1998, leaving him “severely disabled”, a court heard.

A year later he admitted causing grievous bodily harm but when Michael died in 2011, he was further charged with manslaughter.

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Michael’s death was a direct result of the injuries he suffered years earlier, which caused cerebral palsy and curvature of the spine, the Old Bailey heard.

His physical and intellectual development was impaired to such an extent he had trouble breathing, was blind, incontinent and could not speak.

Following the assault, he was assessed as having only a 65 per cent chance of surviving to the age of 11, the court heard.

At the time of his death, his adoptive mother described him as having the functioning age of six weeks.

Prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC said Young did not mean to cause his son serious harm but the evidence would show he was nevertheless responsible for Michael’s death.

Young was unemployed and living with his partner Erica Francis in north-west London when he shook his baby early in April 1998.

When Miss Francis, then 17, woke up later that day, she noticed Michael had become “all floppy” and had “staring eyes that did not focus”, Ms Johnson said.

At first she thought Michael had caught a flu bug from her, but the next day he was still being sick.

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The lawyer said: “Erica described seeing Michael lying in his crib, awake but lifeless. When she picked him up, he just slumped in her arms.”

She decided to call the health visitor but before she could, Young admitted he “may have hurt Michael”, having shaken him because he would not stop crying, the court heard.

When the baby arrived at the Royal Free Hospital in London, he was “pale and fitting”.

A CT scan revealed he had suffered bleeding on his brain and he was diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome, the prosecution said. The baby was eventually discharged from hospital into the care of Camden social services, which placed him with foster parents before he was adopted.

Meanwhile, both parents were arrested and Young was charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Ms Johnson said: “Michael was still very much alive, although severely disabled and, following the assault by this defendant, was left with severe brain damage.”

In January 2011, his adoptive mother, Karen Heppleston-Winn, saw that Michael’s breathing had stopped and, despite the efforts of doctors, he died almost a fortnight later at the age of 12.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was “respiratory insufficiency caused by pneumonia and the marked curvature of the spine” as a result of the injuries he suffered as a very young infant, Ms Johnson said.

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Young was arrested in Scotland in March 2011 and told police in an interview that he had “accidentally shaken” Michael for seconds after he had been up all night, the court heard.

Giving evidence, Miss Francis said that Young had used one of Michael’s dolls to show her what he had done to their baby.

Young denies manslaughter.The trial continues.

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