Father in Camden baby shaking trial is cleared of killing newborn son
15:56 01 August 2014
A man who shook his newborn son, causing catastrophic brain injuries that were said to have led to the child’s death more than a decade later, has been found not guilty of manslaughter following a landmark trial.
Allan Young, 36, broke down in tears at the Old Bailey as the jury returned a verdict of not guilty today.
Mr Young had previously been jailed for 12 months after he admitted causing grievous bodily harm to his five-week-old son Michael Winn in 1998, leaving him “severely disabled”, the court heard.
When Michael died in 2011, Mr Young was further charged with manslaughter following a change in the law.
Before 1996, charges of murder or manslaughter could only be brought if death occurred within a year and a day from the date of the original assault.
In Mr Young’s case, charges were brought even though there had been a 12-year gap, making it the longest on record.
The prosecution said Michael’s death was a direct result of the injuries he suffered years earlier which caused cerebral palsy and curvature of the spine.
Mr Young was unemployed and living with his partner, Erica Francis, in Belsize Road, South Hampstead, when he shook his baby son early on April 16, 1998, the court heard.
When the baby arrived at the Royal Free Hospital, in Hampstead, 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.
He was eventually discharged from hospital in May 1998 into the care of Camden social services, which placed him with foster parents before he was adopted.
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, Michael was assessed as having only a 65 per cent chance of surviving to the age of 11, the court heard.
On January 11, 2011 Michael’s adoptive mother Karen Heppleston-Winn noticed Michael’s breathing had stopped and, despite the effort of medics, he died overnight on January 23, 2011 at the age of 12.
A post-mortem examination found he died of “respiratory insufficiency caused by pneumonia and the marked curvature of the spine” as a result of the injuries Michael suffered as a very young infant, the prosecution said.
But Mr Young, of Wishaw in Lanarkshire, denied manslaughter insisting he could not have caused the fatal injuries.
Today, after 24 hours and 40 minutes’ of deliberation, a jury found him not guilty.
Mr Young bowed his head as the verdict was announced and broke into tears.
He declined the judge’s offer to remain in court after being freed from the dock.