Prison for couple who caused baby serious physical harm

A man and a woman who lived on Walters Farm Road in Tonbridge have been sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of causing or allowing a baby to suffer serious physical harm.

Bailey Smyth-Osborne was born healthy on November 16, 2016.

But he was just three weeks old when his young parents, Marina Smyth and Michael Osborne, found him stiff, cold and not breathing in his Moses basket next to their bed on December 5. They called 999 but police and ambulance crews who were scrambled to the family’s flat were unable to resuscitate him.

They believed he had been dead ‘for some time’.

The post mortem established the cause of death as pneumonia, a respiratory virus infection and sepsis, but doctors also detected a number of injuries to the boy.

These included a complete fracture across his left leg, bruising to his fingers and genitals, and head injuries including bruising and bleeding under the scalp.

An investigation was launched by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, and three days later Smyth and Osborne were arrested.

The Crown Prosecution Service charged them with causing or allowing a child to suffer serious physical harm between November 16 and December 6, 2016.

Osborne, aged 22, and Smyth, 21, pleaded not guilty.

At Maidstone Crown Court the jury heard medical evidence that none of the injuries to the baby could have been self-inflicted, apart from a scratch to his nose. The court also heard that the broken leg was most likely to have been caused by forcibly pulling, twisting or swinging the baby by his foot.

On July 25 a jury found them guilty and they were sentenced the same day.

Detective Constable Alex Hayter said: ‘Although the baby tragically died from natural causes, it was subsequently discovered that he had suffered a number of serious, non-accidental injuries in the days prior to his death.

‘Both Marina Smyth and Michael Osborne accepted it could only have been them who caused these injuries and yet both denied inflicting them and blamed the other.’

Prosecutor Jennifer Knight told the jury of seven women and five men that the prosecution did not have to prove which parent inflicted the injuries.

But Ms Knight said whichever defendant was not responsible would have still been aware of the significant risk posed to their child.

The verdict on Osborne and Smyth comes at a time when a foster family from Kings Hill are calling for longer jail terms for those who commit cruelty against a child.

Paula and Mark Hudgell adopted Baby Tony after his birth parents Jody Simpson and Tony Smith were jailed for ten years for causing or allowing serious harm to a child and child cruelty.

Their son was admitted to hospital at 41 days old in November 2014 suffering from multiple fractures of all his limbs, joint dislocations, blunt trauma impact to his face and many other injuries.

The Hudgells launched a petition which has been signed by 4,000 people, and their campaign was supported by Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat, who has called on the Ministry of Justice to change the law.

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