A MAN who attacked his 23-day-old baby son, leaving him with brain injuries, a fractured skull and broken legs, has been jailed for more than six years.

Michael Gunning, 32, had been living in Lime Street, Ellesmere Port in August 2019 when he was left in care of new-born son Arthur, with the mother Keely Lowe having gone upstairs to bed.

Chester Crown Court heard on Friday, March 11 that Gunning assaulted the new-born with such force the child was left with symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome, with a bleed on the brain, retinal injuries, fractures to both legs, a fractured skull and an injury to the mouth where it looked like he had been force-fed a baby bottle.

It was more than 24 hours before the baby was taken to hospital, with Gunning even ringing up his GP in the meantime to book an appointment for his bad back, without mentioning his severely injured son.

Gunning had claimed the injuries were caused by someone else and denied charges of child neglect and grievous bodily harm, until after the prosecution case against him had concluded during the third day of his trial, whereupon he changed his pleas to guilty.

Co-defendant Lowe had, during an earlier plea and trial preparation hearing, pleaded guilty to a single charge of child neglect.

Prosecuting, Mark Connor said Arthur had been a "healthy, perfect baby" when he was born in July 2019, and Gunning and Lowe were able to take him home.

It was on the night of August 3, 23 days after Arthur was born, that Gunning was left alone with him as Lowe, saying she was extremely tired, went upstairs to bed at 10pm.

Gunning had gone outside for a smoke between midnight and 1am, and in police interview said he had taken a screen with him to monitor Arthur, who was in a Moses basket with baby monitor.

He claimed he heard a "big bellowing cry" from Arthur that woke up Lowe, and Arthur was crying "for about 45 minutes". He told police he believed the baby monitor had become unchained and fell on Arthur.

Mr Connor said: "He said this despite overwhelming medical evidence to the contrary," which Arthur having received a fractured skull which came from a severe blunt trauma.

Arthur woke up the following day and was displaying "intermittent twitches".

Mr Connor said: "It was in fact Arthur having seizures as a result of being shaken."

The court heard the lack of action to these seizures, which continued throughout the day and into the following morning, had likely contributed to Arthur's developmental delay.

Mr Connor said: "Gunning must have known he had caused serious harm to baby Arthur."

Lowe recorded three short videos of Arthur during the day, which were sent via Whatsapp to family members.

Two of the videos were described as "harrowing" and "distressing to watch", and were not played during the sentencing hearing, having previously been played to the court during the trial.

A family member shouted that they must get medical attention for Arthur.

But no help was sought as Gunning "had done some looking up on the internet" and said the seizures were "an inherited condition".

At 9.40am on August 5, a 111 call was made and an ambulance was sent to the family home in Ellesmere Port, with paramedics arriving at 9.56am.

Gunning told the police he had rung up the GP surgery earlier that morning, not about Arthur, but to make an appointment about his bad back.

Arthur was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital, where he began to fit while in the ambulance.

He was transferred to Alder Hey Hospital, where a diagnosis showed there had been "extensive pulling and twisting of the limbs", and the mouth area had received a "blunt force of trauma" by a baby bottle to the face.

Both Gunning and Lowe were arrested and questioned, with both denying any wrongdoing.

Arthur received support from a safeguarding officer and, Mr Connor told the court, "considering the extent of the traumatic brain injury, his developmental progress has been very reassuring, as he could have had significant long-term complications and a very poor prognosis."

However, there were signs of developmental delay and there were ongoing possible concerns with a limp.

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Lowe's mother wrote a victim impact statement which was read to the court, where she said Arthur is "such a wonderful smiling boy and brings so much joy into our lives.

"As a family we wish to draw a line under the chaos and devastation, and to get Arthur the justice he deserves."

The mother added that, as a result of the criminal investigation, Arthur was separated from Lowe for 11 months, meaning they missed on key developmental moments.

She added: "I can never forgive Michael Gunning for what he did to Arthur. He never had the guts to admit to what he did. If he had a caring bone in his body he would have taken the blame on August 5."

Gunning had previous convictions for burglary and criminal damage, while Lowe was of previous good character.

Mark Le Brocq, defending Gunning, said: "He simply cannot face up to what he has done," adding the case had taken some time to get to court.

Matthew Dunford, defending Lowe, said she had expressed her "deep regret for what she had done", and she was turning to the support of her family to assist in the welfare of her son.

Recorder Lamb said to Gunning: "There was deliberate disregard for the welfare for the victim. I know, from the evidence I heard at trial, that you must have known that you caused those injuries.

"The harrowing appearance of Arthur in videos that the court saw during the trial, that was the presentation of your child, and when you contacted your GP it was to make an appointment for yourself.

"Bearing in mind the serious injuries suffered by your own son that makes your own conduct in failing to seek treatment for him all the more reprehensible."

Gunning was jailed for six years and eight months.

Turning to Lowe, Recorder Lamb said she had been "naive" in failing to seek proper treatment for Arthur, and a prison term was appropriate in this case. However, the "realistic prospect of rehabilitation" meant the sentence could be suspended.

A tearful Lowe was sentenced to nine months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 25 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement as part of a 12-month community order.

Detective Sergeant Jessica Barlow, who led the investigation, said: “I welcome the sentence handed to Gunning which reflects the severity of his actions.

“The offences that he committed on the child were absolutely horrific and will have a significant impact on them for the rest of their life.

“As well as a fractured skull, the child also sustained a number of other injuries which were consistent with being repeatedly shaken and thrown onto a hard surface.

“While the child will never fully recover, I hope that this will help bring some closure and help to move forward with their lives."