Levi-Blu Cassin: Parents cleared of toddler's murder
A mother and father accused of killing their toddler son have been cleared of his murder - but convicted of causing or allowing his death.
Danielle Cassin, 27, and Mark Piper, 31, had both denied delivering a fatal blow to Levi-Blu Cassin.
Birmingham Crown Court was told the 22-month-old died from "catastrophic" internal injuries in February 2013.
A jury found them guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child. They will be sentenced on Monday.
Cassin, of Frensham Close, Chelmsley Wood, and Piper, of no fixed abode, were also cleared of manslaughter.
Levi-Blu was found at the flat his parents shared in Nightingale Avenue, Chelmsley Wood, on 20 February last year.
Both defendants gave differing accounts of Levi-Blu's last 24 hours, but maintained they did not know how he came to be injured.
Judge Mr Justice Goss said both "deny they used any violence on Levi or was aware of the other using any".
They were, he said "at a loss" in police interviews to explain how Levi-Blu sustained his fatal injuries.
They said he had shown signs of sickness in the hours leading up to his death, but had not appeared gravely ill.
But during the trial medical experts told the jury it was likely Levi-Blu sustained the fatal injury around 12 hours before his death.
"There will have been a distinct change in his behaviour after the event and it is very unlikely that he will have walked or played," one said.
A post-mortem examination found his duodenum - where the small intestine meets the stomach - was split in two.
There was also evidence Levi-Blu had sustained less serious injuries two or three weeks before his death, the trial heard.
Causing or allowing a death - what does it mean?
- An offence under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, which can be committed against a child or vulnerable adult.
- A prosecution can be brought where is it believed the victim died as a result of another person's "unlawful act", if that person was a member of the same household who had frequent contact with the victim.
- If the culprit did not directly cause the victim's death, they can be prosecuted for the offence if they knew, or should have known, there was a "significant risk of serious physical harm being caused to the victim" and failed to take steps to prevent it.
- The charge was brought in the case of Baby P (pictured above). His mother, her boyfriend and their lodger were convicted of causing his death.
- According to the Act, causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable child or adult carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
Jurors were also told social workers had designed a plan to try and protect Levi because of his mother's drug use and his father's history of violence.
The NSPCC said it was "extremely distressing" to hear "defenceless toddler" Levi-Blu "had endured such suffering in his short life".
Sandra Mcnair, head of the charity's Midlands Regional branch said she hoped Monday's sentencing hearing "reflects the severity of the crime committed".
"We may never know the full story of what happened to Levi-Blu," she said.
"However, we do know that he lived in a home where domestic violence and drug use was common place.
"We know that Levi-Blu was wilfully neglected by his parents, who chose to put their relationship and drugs before the basic needs and wellbeing of their son.
"The family was known to local agencies, so it is vital that questions are asked as to whether more could have been done to keep him safe from harm", she said.
Edwina Grant, chair of Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Board, confirmed a serious case review had been launched.
It is expected to be published in the spring, she said.