BRAIN injuries caused to a Chester boy by his father "more likely than not" contributed to his death, an inquest has concluded.

R-Jay Bullock, of Pipers Lane, Hoole, died at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool on January 18, 2016, of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which later led to pneumonia.

He was four but when he was less than three months old, on February 6, 2012, his father Richard Lovell had shaken him and caused the baby to collapse and stop breathing.

Following emergency hospital treatment R-Jay was left with brain damage including cerebral palsy, severe visual impairment, difficulties swallowing and regularly experienced seizures.

Lovell was subsequently jailed in June 2013 for two-and-a-half years at Chester Crown Court after admitting a grievous bodily harm assault charge.

At the inquest in Chester on Monday, May 13, three expert doctors said while it was "more likely than not" R-Jay's cerebral palsy had contributed to his death from RSV pneumonia, they could not be sure of it.

Countess of Chester Hospital consultant paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram, giving evidence at the hearing, explained that was because perfectly healthy children had been known to get RSV, a common virus, and suffer serious consequences which could even be fatal.

He said: "I could not say with any certainty that, had R-Jay been neurologically normal, for sure the outcome would have been different."

Dr Rajeev Shukla, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said the disabilities R-Jay had came from 'shaken impact syndrome'.

These were a direct consequence of Lovell's actions and resulted in decreased lung function which would have made it more likely for R-Jay to have a severe negative outcome from getting the RSV.

R-Jay had been admitted to the Countess of Chester Hospital on January 8, 2016 by his family, including mum Leanne Bullock, with a suspected fever.

After undergoing treatment for a suspected bacterial infection, R-Jay was transferred to Alder Hey, where despite continued aggressive treatment and initial signs of improvement, his condition deteriorated and he passed away peacefully with his family by his bedside at 7pm on January 18.

A post-mortem examination revealed the presence of RSV in R-Jay. As the condition is a virus, there is no specific treatment for it.

Miss Bullock told the inquest that Dee Banks School pupil R-Jay – whose surname was changed from Lovell to Bullock by deed poll – had initially been quite poorly since being shaken in 2012 but then went through a period where he was fine.

"He had a great life with us and there were no concerns whatsoever, but later he just went downhill,” Miss Bullock said.

“He had a good life and was loved. It was a shock to us all as we were expecting to take him home [from hospital]."

Dr Jayaram said it was "surprising, but also good" that despite the shaking in 2012, R-Jay did not subsequently have a large number of respiratory infections, as might have been expected.

But he added respiratory problems "would eventually happen" in cases such as R-Jay's.

Claire Welch, area coroner for Cheshire, concluding the inquest, explained R-Jay's disabilities did not cause the RSV as that was a spontaneously occurring infection, nor would they cause the RSV to turn into pneumonia.

If R-Jay's brain injuries had definitely been a direct contributing factor behind his death, Mrs Welch said a conclusion of 'unlawful killing' would have been considered and the inquest might have been adjourned to pass evidence to the Criminal Prosecution Service.

However, none of the doctors giving evidence at the inquest could say for sure that was the case, only that it was "more likely than not".

Mrs Welch concluded R-Jay died as a result of natural causes, contributed to by a traumatic brain injury.

The area coroner thanked R-Jay's family for being "completely dignified" and patient.

She added: "What you have gone through as a family since 2012 does not bear thinking about.

“For you to lose a loved one in these circumstances is unimaginable.

"My heart breaks for R-Jay for what he went through, but to hear evidence from yourselves that he was loved for those years really gave me comfort.

“I just wanted to say that to you on a personal level."

Richard Lovell was with his three-month-old son at their Chapel Lane, Boughton, home on February 6, 2012 when he "lost control" and shook R-Jay, leaving him with bleeds on the brain and extensive haemorrhages in both eyes.

The late Judge Elgan Edwards, sentencing Lovell to two-and-a-half years in prison at Chester Crown Court in June 2013, accepted that Lovell did not intend to cause grievous bodily harm, but told him: "You ruined that boy’s life. He will never be the same. He will have to be looked after for the rest of his life."

Patrick Thompson, defending Lovell, said: "Nothing I say in the way of mitigation will diminish the consequences for R-Jay and his mother.

“It's accepted that these dreadful consequences have occurred."