Gainford father accused of shaking his son to death takes to the stand

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A FATHER has launched his defence against accusations he shook his baby son to death.

Lee Clark took to the stand for the first time in his trial at Newcastle Crown Court today (February 6).

The 28-year-old denies the manslaughter of five-month-old Charlee, who died from a bleed in his brain in March, 2011.

The jury heard Mr Clark was alone with his son at their home in Neville Close, Gainford, County Durham, for an hour-and-a-half on the morning of Friday, February 24, 2011, between Charlee’s mother Natalie Holmes leaving and Mr Clark’s mother Jeanette Palmer arriving to babysit her grandson.

In that time Mr Clark said his son was unsettled because he was missing Ms Holmes, but did not cause him any concern.

He left his son to his mother’s care while he joined Ms Holmes shopping in Darlington, but when his then-fiancée returned home she noticed he was acting strangely and he was rushed to hospital where he later died.

Prosecutor Andrew Robertson accused Mr Clark of losing his temper with Charlee because of the baby’s ill temper, and said it would only have taken 10 to 20 seconds of vigorous shaking to cause the injuries, a charge Mr Clark vehemently denied.

The prosecutor also accused Mr Clark of realising he had killed his son, which is why he had asked a nurse if shaking Charlee could have led to the injuries.

Mr Clark said a nurse had already told him that non-accidental injury could have been a cause, and the only possible way he could conceive of Charlee being injured was when he was being gently bounced on Mr Clark’s knee.

The court has previously heard that Charlee died after suffering bleeding in his eyes and brain which an investigating doctor said was probably caused by a trauma.

But in today’s hearing leading forensic pathologist and shaken-baby expert Professor Milroy said the injuries can occur naturally and are far from “absolute proof” that the child was shaken.

He added that in shaken cases there would usually be other injuries, such as broken ribs or bones, but apart from two bruises on his knees Charlee had no other injuries.

Also giving evidence today, Ms Palmer said she probably caused the bruises when she caught Charlee’s legs in his baby swing while she was trying to remove him, a possibility supported by Prof Milroy.

The trial continues.

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