Telford father who killed baby son jailed for 10 years

Oliver Sargent Image copyright Ashlea Thomas - from Facebook
Image caption Oliver Sargent collapsed in July 2012

A man has been jailed for 10 years for killing his 11-month-old son who died after suffering a skull fracture.

Paul Thomas, 29, from Telford, Shropshire, was acquitted of murder but convicted of the manslaughter of Oliver Sargent, who died in 2012.

His wife, Ashlea, 21, was cleared of murder and manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court but convicted of causing or allowing the death of her child.

She was given a two-year jail term, suspended for two years.

Her son died in hospital in 27 July 2012 after sustaining the skull fracture during an assault. The court heard he had injuries consist with a 40mph car crash.

The pair were convicted by majority verdict after a five-week trial.

During the trial, Paul Thomas, a builder, had suggested his pet dog may have "accidentally" injured Oliver, who suffered a bleed on the brain after being shaken.

Post-mortem tests established that the boy, who had 13 separate marks on his body and face, had been subjected to at least one impact to the left side of his head.

Further medical investigations discovered historic injuries, including two fractured ribs and a broken collar bone, all of which had healed.

Children's charity the NSPCC said Oliver's parents had allowed their child "to suffer unimaginable pain until the day he died" and described the case as "heart-breaking".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Paul and Ashlea Thomas were cleared of murder

'Discussed sentencing'

The court had learned of texts sent four months before the death, where Mrs Thomas accused her husband of banging the child's head but then accepted his explanation.

After initial hospital treatment, Oliver was transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital and while there, a nurse overheard Mrs Thomas ask her mother "how long do you think I am going to get?"

Thomas asked a police officer what sort of prison sentence someone might get for what had happened to his son.

Sentencing Paul Thomas, Mr Justice Nicholas Green told him he had killed his son "in a moment of unthinking madness".

The judge accepted evidence that at times, Thomas could be "a good and loving father", but he told him "you had a temper and a short fuse".

The judge told his wife, a former nursery nurse, she was "genuinely concerned and cared for Oliver" but "never accepted Paul was a risk to Oliver and you repeated this assertion in court".

He said: "It is impossible to say that had you raised concerns, they would have led to Oliver being alive today."

Both West Mercia Police and Telford & Wrekin Council said they had no contact with the family until Oliver's collapse in July 2012.

Andrew Mason, chairman of Telford and Wrekin's safeguarding children's board, said a serious case review was expected to be published in early June.

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