Cumbria

Acquitted dad Craig Beattie 'killed baby son' family judge said

Craig Beattie
Image caption Craig Beattie was arrested two years after the death of his son and later found not guilty of manslaughter at Liverpool Crown Court

A judge found that a father killed his baby son in a ruling made a year before he was cleared of manslaughter by a jury, it has emerged.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson said Craig Beattie was to blame for six-week-old Kye Kerr's death in Carlisle in 2011.

The judge's family court findings were not shown to Mr Beattie's trial jury in 2015 to avoid prejudicing the verdict.

In a separate case the same judge said a girl was abused by her father before she died, although he was not charged.

Paul Worthington, 48, from Barrow-in-Furness, was arrested in connection with 13-month-old Poppi's death but the Crown Prosecution Service said there was "insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction".

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Poppi Worthington died in hospital in December 2012

The 2014 judgement in relation to Kye Kerr has been published despite the father's argument that much of it should be redacted.

His 35-year-old father, then living in Harraby, was alleged to have lost his temper and shaken or hit his son.

Mr Justice Jackson said the baby had a skull fracture "caused by a significant impact", bleeding on the brain and an unexplained mark on his head.

"Having considered all the available information I have reached the conclusion that the father was responsible for both occasions of injury, and that the injuries on the second occasion caused death," he said.

'Throw the blame'

Judgements in family court proceedings are made based on a balance of probabilities, a lesser burden of proof than beyond reasonable doubt, which is required in criminal courts.

There was "no reason to believe that the father intended harm" but his "last minute efforts to throw the blame on the mother were quite deliberate", Mr Justice Jackson added.

Image copyright BBC news online
Image caption Cumbria County Council's Children's Services has improved since Kye Kerr's death, according to Ofsted

A serious case review into the death criticised authorities' "insufficient professional curiosity" and inadequate assessments "of variable quality".

Cumbria County Council said it acknowledged "mistakes were made and that appropriate opportunities to issue care proceedings were not acted upon".

Corporate director for children's services, John Macilwraith said "procedures have been clarified" and social workers would now not wait for information from police or health professionals before bringing concerns about abuse before a court.

Cumbria Constabulary's Assistant Chief Constable Darren Martland said he acknowledged Mr Justice Jackson's criticisms, following which the force had referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

"The IPCC is conducting an independent investigation and, as such, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further," he said.

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