Parents convicted following death of three-month-old child

 

The parents of a three-month-old boy who died after suffering a brain injury have been convicted following a trial.

Baby Ah’Kiell Walker died from a lack of oxygen to the brain and medical treatment was ceased after test results revealed he was brain damaged.

Parents Alistair Walker, 27 and 22-year-old Hannah Henry had denied manslaughter, causing or allowing the death of a child and cruelty to a person under the age of 16.

However, following an investigation by Gloucestershire Constabulary and a five-week trial at Bristol Crown court, both parents have been convicted for their involvement.

Walker was found guilty of manslaughter and cruelty to a person under the age of 16 and Henry was found not guilty of manslaughter, but guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child and cruelty to a person under the age of 16.

Jurors heard how Ah’Kiell had suffered at the hands of his parents as he had injuries indicative of being shaken, including damage to his eyes (retinal haemorrhaging), and had suffered fractured ribs.

He had also either been submerged in water or was fed water through a bottle with a cut teat to increase the flow which injured him in the same way as if he had been submerged.

Paramedics had arrived at the home on Archdeacon Street, Gloucester on the morning of 30 July 2016 where Ah’Kiell was found naked, cold, soaking wet and breathing abnormally.

Sadly baby Ah’Kiell’s health did not improve and brain stem tests revealed that he was brain dead. His treatment was stopped at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children the following afternoon, 31 July 2016.

His parents had been arrested at hospital after their accounts to doctors were not consistent.

During their police interviews, and during their trial, neither Walker or Henry gave any explanation as to what caused Ah’Kiell’s death, his brain injury, or his fractured ribs and shoulder.

The court heard the baby had not “pooed for a month” and that Walker was “obsessed” with Ah’Kiell’s constipation, however neither parent sought medical advice in the weeks that led to their son’s death.

The police investigation found how in June and July in 2016 father Walker had frequently been searching the internet for baby constipation and how to treat it.

Some of his internet searches also included “squeeze my baby’s poop out”, “can babies feel pain” and “baby broken ribs”.

A post-mortem examination showed Ah’Kiell had sustained a fracture to his right shoulder and suffered four rib fractures which a pathologist said were healing and would have happened weeks before he died.

Henry’s phone records revealed she had sent a text to her mother stating she did not like the way Walker treated their son and another to a friend that Walker would get angry when the baby cried.

However despite her concerns, the crown’s case was that the mother wanted Walker’s attention and put that before consideration of her son.

Jurors found that although what happened in the lead up to Ah’Kiell’s death is unknown, both defendants were responsible for his suffering and ultimately his death.

After the trial, Chief Inspector Richard Pegler, the senior investigating officer in the case from Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: “Ah’Kiell was a beautiful baby boy and his death is a tragic loss.

“This was a complex and difficult case as we don’t know precisely what happened that morning, there are only two people who do, but what we do know is that Ah’Kiell’s death was not natural or readily explained and that his injuries were indeed non accidental.

“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.

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

Walker, of Sheldon Court in Lansdowne Green, London and Henry, of Archdeacon Street, Gloucester had faced a trial at Bristol Crown court last year, however the case was dismissed and a re-trial was ordered.

The pair have been remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on June 1.