Father Allan Young found not guilty of shaken baby death

Allan Young statement: ""There are no winners in this case or in relation to what happened to Michael"

A father has been cleared of the manslaughter of his son, 16 years after shaking the boy as a newborn baby.

Allan Young, 36, lived with his partner in Belsize Road, north-west London, when he shook five-week-old Michael Winn in April 1998, the jury heard.

Michael died in 2011 but Young, of Glasgow Road, Wishaw, north Lanarkshire, was acquitted of manslaughter at the Old Bailey.

After the verdict, he questioned if the prosecution was in the public interest.

Analysis

The 12-year time period between the initial shaking of baby Michael in 1998 and his death is believed to be the longest ever gap between an assault and a death leading to a prosecution for manslaughter in English legal history.

While we have become used to prosecutions in cases of historical sexual abuse taking place decades after the abuse happened, a prosecution for manslaughter after a gap of more than 12 years is truly exceptional.

Until 1996 there was a rule, known as the "year and a day rule", in homicide cases which meant that a person could not be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter more than a year and a day after the assault on the victim.

It was presumed that the assault had not caused the victim's death if they survived for more than a year.

That rule was abolished because advances in medical science meant that the lives of victims could be preserved and prolonged.

However, even now where a death occurs more than three years after an assault causing an injury, or where the accused was previously convicted of an offence committed in circumstances connected with the death (for example, a previous conviction for causing grievous bodily harm), a prosecution can only be started with the consent of the attorney general.

'Staring eyes'

Speaking outside the court, through his solicitor Jenny Wiltshire of Hickman Rose, Mr Young said: "There are no winners in this case, or in relation to what happened to Michael.

"I had moved on with my life, with my new partner and lovely little girl.

"When Michael tragically died, I was arrested out of the blue, and once again my world was turned upside down.

"I really question whether it was in the public interest to prosecute me after so long."

Young broke down in tears when the jury returned the verdict after more than 24 hours of deliberations.

Michael died in the care of his adoptive mother in January 2011.

In 1999 Young had admitted causing grievous bodily harm and was jailed for 12 months.

However, when Michael died in 2011, he was charged with manslaughter.

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 Young's case, charges were brought even though there had been a 12-year gap, the longest on record.

Following the assault in 1998, Michael was put into care and later adopted.

The defence case was that Michael's death was from natural causes.

Allan Young Allan Young denied the manslaughter of his son

The prosecution had alleged Michael's death was a direct result of the injuries he suffered, which caused cerebral palsy and curvature of the spine.

The child had trouble breathing, was blind, incontinent, could not speak, and was assessed as having only a 65% chance of surviving to the age of 11 following the assault.

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

When Young was arrested in March 2011 he said in a police interview he had "accidentally shaken" Michael for seconds after he had been up all night on 16 April 1998, the court heard.

The prosecution told the jury that when his then partner Erica Francis woke up later that day, she noticed Michael had become "all floppy" and had "staring eyes that did not focus".

  • This story was updated on 2 August to clarify our reporting of the court's verdict in this case.

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