Ulster dad jailed for killing his baby son Cameron Jay
Published 30/03/2011 | 13:16
A father who murdered his baby son was jailed for a minimum of 17 years today.
Ryan Leslie, 26, had already been convicted of killing 14-week-old Cameron Jay Leslie, who died in a Belfast hospital in September 2008 after suffering a series of severe injuries.
Setting the tariff Leslie must serve of a life sentence before being considered for release, the judge Mr Justice Ben Stephens told him he was a violent individual who had shown no remorse for his crimes.
Last month, a jury unanimously found Leslie, from Ballyvesey Green, Newtownabbey, guilty of both murder and of causing his son grevious bodily harm.
During his six week trial, it emerged that in an effort to stop his son crying, the accused had squeezed him so hard that he fractured 14 of his ribs. He also inflicted a severe blow to the back of the baby's head, which caused brain injuries that led to his death.
He died days later in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. A post-mortem examination found that as well as the rib fractures, the baby had suffered massive brain damage, retinal haemorrhages and bruising to many areas of his body.
Leslie inflicted the injuries weeks after he had split up from Cameron's mother Sheree Black, when she allowed him to look after their son on certain nights at his flat.
In assessing the aggravating factors in the case, the judge told Belfast Crown Court that Leslie had breached the trust of a father-son relationship and had put off calling 999 even though he knew he had inflicted injuries on him.
"In short, you delayed seeking medical assistance knowing that once you did so your brutality to Cameron could well be discovered," he said.
"Not only did you inflict horrific and fatal injuries on your son, but you failed to obtain the medical treatment that you knew he so desperately needed and you did this for your selfish ends."
He said he had subsequently failed to help treating doctors by giving them a false account of what happened.
Leslie said his son had hit his head on his plastic bath and claimed the rib fractures occurred when he tried to perform CPR on him.
Describing him as a "dishonest and deeply manipulative individual", Mr Justice Stephens said Leslie's explanations to police were "preposterous and farcical".
"You have offered no truthful explanation as to what you did and when you did it," he added.
"I consider that you lost your temper with a 14-week-old baby your son, in response to him crying."
The judge referred to victim impact statements from Cameron's mother and his grandmother Margaret Black.
"In essence, they were being asked the most difficult question as to what it is like to lose a son or a grandson in circumstances such as these," he said.
"I would observe that no judge could fail to be moved by their sensitive and eloquent statements in response."
He added: "I am satisfied that the consequences for both of them, particularly Sheree Black are of a marked and enduring character.
"I would also add that they do not have the consolation of an honest explanation from you as to what occurred and why it occurred. They do not have your acceptance of responsibility together with expressions of remorse for what you did. You continue immune to their suffering."
Leslie had a history of physical abuse against Cameron's mother and had been urged to attend an anger management course - he failed to do so.
Considering mitigating factors, Mr Justice Stephens acknowledged Leslie had intended to cause his son harm, not kill him.
He said the act was also spontaneous in response to his son crying and that he had a relatively clear criminal record.
The judge also noted that at the time Leslie, who prior to the murder had lost his job and tried to commit suicide, was suffering from a degree of emotional and mental instability.
The judge imposed a four year minimum term on the count of grevious bodily harm to run concurrently with his murder tariff.
The time Leslie has already spent on remand in prison will be taken off his term.