Two guilty of allowing the death of five-month-old baby

A Sheppey mother and her boyfriend have been found guilty of causing or allowing the death of her five-month-old baby.

Katherine Cox, 33, and Danny Shepherd, 25, were arrested following the death of Eli Cox in hospital on Wednesday 27 April 2016.

The child had fallen ill a fortnight earlier at the family home in Lapwing Close, Minster.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had suffered a catastrophic brain injury consistent with being shaken and hitting his head, in addition to at least 28 bone fractures believed to have been sustained over a 10-week period. Traces of cocaine and amphetamine were also present in Eli’s system.

Both of the accused denied any involvement in the baby’s death but were convicted following a trial at Maidstone Crown Court.

The jury heard how an ambulance was called to Lapwing Close at about 5.30pm on Wednesday 13 April 2016 when Eli stopped breathing. He was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital where a paediatrician noticed a number of bruises that were not believed to have been accidental.

Kent Police was notified and an investigation was launched by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

They obtained evidence from medical experts that Eli’s brain injury in particular must have happened immediately before his collapse. They also found that the bone fractures would have been suffered during at least five separate incidents beginning in late February 2016, and that it would have been obvious to the offenders that Eli was in pain.

Both Cox and Shepherd denied being users of cocaine and amphetamine, despite five wraps of the latter substance being found by police in a garden shed at their home.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Ivan Beasley said:

`The death of a child is never anything less than tragic but the circumstances behind Eli Cox’s passing are especially upsetting for those of us who share a compassion for others.

`None of us will ever understand what compels people to cause harm to children, and it is unfortunately true to say that Eli suffered more than most and was robbed of his life before it had barely begun.

`Katherine Cox and Danny Shepherd maintained their innocence throughout but the jury saw through their lies. Only they know the true extent of the abuse Eli was put through, which is simply unthinkable to most members of society including parents who would do anything to protect their children from harm.

`I strongly advise anyone who suspects a child is being neglected to call us on 101 or contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. Children who are being abused themselves can call Childline for support and advice on 0800 1111.’

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