On 21st November 2013 Jacqueline Parker and Adam Kightley were sent to prison for seven years each for ‘causing or allowing’ the death of their baby son – Jamie (aged 7 weeks old).
In his short life Jamie was subject to what sounds like some pretty brutal violence – he was assaulted several times before the day that he died. It seems that the cause of death was that Jamie ‘had been shaken with sufficient violence to cause him to suffer bleeding to the eyes and brain damage leading to his death as a result of respiratory and cardiac arrest‘. He had over 40 fractures as well as brain damage and severe bruising when he was taken to hospital.
Both parents were on trial for murder. It is not entirely clear for the news reports what happened, but it seems that by the end of the trial the Prosecution accepted that there was not enough evidence to say which of the two parents were responsible for the death. In those circumstances, the murder charge had do be dropped and the jury considered ‘just’ the charge of causing or allowing the death. Both were found guilty.
The maximum sentence is 14 years in prison. There is some background information on the offence and the sentencing ranges here.
Cases such as these always arouse strong emotions, particularly when it can appear that the defendants have ‘got away with murder’. It’s important to note that they were not convicted of murder (or manslaughter for that matter) and therefore they cannot be sentenced on that basis.
Inevitably, therefore, the sentence will be substantially lower than if they had been found guilty of homicide. Seven years is a long sentence, but for the offences committed seems about right. There may be an appeal, but it is unlikely to be a successful one.