Northern Ireland

Kickboxer Stuart Jess cleared over baby death

Stuart Jess
Image caption Kickboxer Stuart Jess said he could not properly grieve for his son

A former champion kickboxer has been cleared of causing the death of his two-month-old baby son three years ago.

Stuart Jess, 29, from Belfast Road in Saintfield had been accused of causing the death of baby Callum Thai Jess on 24 August, 2008.

He had also denied wilfully neglecting his son, "in a manner likely to cause him injury to his health".

On Monday morning, after a jury had been sworn in, the prosecution said it did not intend to call any evidence.

Speaking afterwards at Downpatrick Crown Court, Mr Jess, a father of three, along with his partner Heidi McCormick, said that they "can properly grieve for our son now".

Earlier, trial judge Mr Justice McLaughlin told the jury that as the prosecution had reviewed the case and had decided not to call any evidence, Mr Jess was entitled to be found not guilty on each of the charges.

He added that in light of the prosecution decision, he as trial judge, would give them the legal direction to acquit the kickboxer, once the British welterweight champion who fought many of his amateur bouts under the nickname "The Saintfield Mauler".

Mr Justice McLaughlin also told the jury that while they had not heard any details surrounding the tragic death of young Callum, it appeared that the infant had been sleeping on the sofa with his father at some stage.

At the time it was reported that Callum was found by his mother Ms McCormick, who attempted CPR, and although paramedics rushed the child to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, he was pronounced dead.