British man convicted of killing girlfriend's baby

British man convicted of killing girlfriend's baby
Victim Alfie Rhys Sullock

A man has been found guilty by a UK court of killing his girlfriend's baby.

Michael John Pearce has been on trial at Newport Crown Court over the death of six-week-old Alfie Rhys Sullock.

A jury found the 33-year-old defendant not guilty of murder, but convicted him of manslaughter.

The court heard Alfie suffered blunt head trauma before his death.

His mother Donna Sullock had left her then partner Pearce to babysit Alfie while she went out on her first night out since giving birth.

Moments before he dialled 999, the defendant texted Ms Sullock to say her son was doing fine and that he could be trusted with him.

When paramedics arrived at Pearce's home in Nelson, Caerphilly, South Wales, they found Alfie cold, lifeless and blue. He died four days later in hospital.

During his three-week trial, magistrate's son Pearce said he had no idea what happened to Alfie.

The court also heard the motorcycle mechanic had drunk five pints of beer on that evening last summer.

Despite protesting his innocence, a jury of eight men and four women convicted Pearce on their eighth day of deliberations.

Alfie was born at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), Cardiff, on July 6, 2013.

A court heard the child was healthy and that his mother's pregnancy and labour had been uneventful.

A jury also heard Ms Sullock, who lived in Fairwater, Cardiff, discovered she had become pregnant while a holiday rep in Crete.

She returned home to the UK, and six months into her pregnancy she became friends with Pearce.

The pair later became an item - although prosecutors said Pearce began to display "obsessive behaviour" towards her - and even asked her to give him a child just weeks into their relationship.

On August 16, Ms Sullock travelled from her home in the Welsh capital to Pearce's home in Nelson, Caerphilly, to stay over the weekend.

However, father-of-one Pearce suggested she go out with his friend's girlfriend for a "girly night out".

Before then though, Pearce went out to a nearby pub and downed four pints of beer in 45 minutes.

He returned home and looked after Alfie while Ms Sullock got ready.

The baby's mother said her son was healthy and breathing normally before she left.

Less than half an hour into her night, a worried Ms Sullock asked if her son was doing okay.

The defendant sent a text saying: "you can trust me".

In the half an hour that followed, at 9.11pm an ambulance was called.

The seven-minute call was later played to the jury in full.

When asked by the operator did he see what happened, the defendant replied he had simply given the baby a bottle and then the child had stopped breathing.

Earlier during the case, prosecutor Michael Mather-Lees said Pearce must have known what happened to Alfie.

He added: "Children do not go cold instantly."

Alfie was first taken to the Prince Charles Hospital in Methyr Tydfil before being transferred to UHW.

On August 20, life support was withdrawn and Alfie died, the court heard.

A Home Office pathologist later gave a provisional cause of death as "blunt trauma head injury".

As the jury delivered its verdict, there were shouts of "what" from the public gallery where Ms Sullock's family sat.

Before the verdict was delivered the judge had commended Ms Sullock, her family and friends for the dignified way they had conducted themselves through the proceedings.

Ms Sullock had attended every day of the trial - and listened to evidence such as the 999 call and details of her son's post-mortem examination.

Pearce will be sentenced tomorrow.

More in this Section

Cheers for Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho on his return to KoreaCheers for Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho on his return to Korea

More than 3,000 tested in UK for coronavirusMore than 3,000 tested in UK for coronavirus

Facial expressions do not reflect our innermost feelings, new research suggestsFacial expressions do not reflect our innermost feelings, new research suggests

White House hopeful Pete Buttigieg says he is proud of his husbandWhite House hopeful Pete Buttigieg says he is proud of his husband


Lifestyle

When Marisa Murphy went to play as a teenager on Dinish Island, she could still see the flowers growing among the ruins in her grandmother’Islands of Ireland: Barely inhabitated Dinish became an industrial zone

MAC make-up artist Lucy Bridge shares her tips backstage at Roland Mouret.How to create the perfect matte red lip, according to a backstage beauty expert

New trends include chunky heeled boots, silver belts and lots of plaid from the British designer.Victoria Beckham got ‘rebellious’ for her new collection – as David and family watched on

When horses were shown photographs of angry human faces, their hearts speeded up.Jackass penguin talk is similar to humans

More From The Irish Examiner