Devon

Matthew Wickens jailed for Devon baby throwing death

  • 14 May 2014
  • From the section Devon
Matthew Wickens
Image caption The court heard Matthew Wickens felt the birth of his son had robbed him of his freedom

A man who killed his crying baby by throwing him so violently into his cot that he suffered massive head injuries has been jailed.

Matthew Wickens, 24, tried to cover up five-week-old Rilee Gardener's head injury by putting a hat on him, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Rilee was found "lifeless and cold" by his mother, in November 2012.

Wickens, of Waltham Road, Newton Abbot, admitted manslaughter and was jailed for six years and five months.

Simon Laws QC, prosecuting, said that by shaking Rilee and throwing him into his cot, Wickens had caused him serious head injuries.

'Life was over'

When Rilee's mother, Gemma Gardener, returned home Wickens pretended the baby was safe and asleep, Mr Laws said.

It was only when she became concerned about how long he had been silent that she found him collapsed in his cot, the court heard.

Wickens went on to lie about what had happened to his son for 15 months, saying he accidentally dropped his child, the court was told.

His lies led to suspicion temporarily falling on Ms Gardener, who was wholly innocent, the court heard.

Post-mortem examinations on Rilee's body showed a combination of internal bleeding inside the head and eyes, which is associated with non-accidental shaking injuries.

Mr Laws added: "Wickens said he felt like his life was over and he was a father all the time, while his mates were off doing different things and experiencing stuff."

Mr Paul Dunkels, QC, defending, said a lack of sleep and fatigue caused by combining the duties of parenthood with a full-time job could have contributed towards Wickens losing his temper while he was caring for Rilee.

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