'Infant beaten to death while his mum shopped'

DENIAL: Richard Morgan and Rachel Peacock

DENIAL: Richard Morgan and Rachel Peacock

First published in News

A BABY boy was beaten and shaken to death by his mother’s partner while his mother went shopping, a court was told.

Slater Sharkey was covered head to toe in 25 bruises when he died aged 13 months last December, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors claim Richard Morgan, 32, of Tantobie, County Durham, abused the youngster over the 18 hours prior to his death. He is on trial for manslaughter.

Slater’s mother, Rachel Peacock, 31, who lived at the same address and appeared in the dock next to Morgan, is charged with causing or allowing the death of a child and child cruelty.

She is accused of turning a blind eye to the abuse to protect Mr Morgan.

Both deny the charges.

Andrew Robertson QC told jurors Slater died of catastrophic brain damage at the hands of Mr Morgan, who was looking after him while Ms Peacock went to local shops.

His lifeless body was taken to hospital but he died hours later on December 11 last year.

Mr Robertson said: “Rachel Peacock left Slater playing with his toys. When she left, she left the child in Richard Morgan’s sole custody. When she returned, Slater was unconscious. Richard Morgan was panicking, but he hadn’t telephoned an ambulance.”

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Mr Morgan’s account was that he had simply gone to the toilet leaving Slater playing with his toys on the living room floor and when he returned, Slater was face down on the floor not breathing.

The youngster was found to have suffered multiple head wounds consistent with being beaten or struck against something, and had bruises on his legs which suggested he had been gripped tightly, Mr Robertson said.

A pathologist discovered he also had extensive and severe bleeding in his eyes and bleeding and swelling to the brain – a sign he was violently shaken, the court heard.

Mr Robertson said: “The fatal injury can only have occurred when the child was left alone with Richard Morgan.”

The jury was told Ms Peacock had refused to take Slater to hospital when he was ill on two earlier occasions and social services became involved.

The prosecution claims she was reluctant to let the authorities see the child’s bruises to protect her partner and failed to report abuse.

Mr Robertson said: She must have known that her partner was physically abusing her own son. Yet she did nothing to protect him.”

The trial, which is scheduled to last four weeks, continues.

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