Belfast Telegraph

Torment of kickboxer cleared over the death of his baby son

By Deborah McAleese

The partner of a champion kickboxer who was yesterday cleared of causing the death of their infant son has criticised the PPS for putting them through three years of "torment".

Heidi McCormick said she never once doubted the innocence of her partner Stuart Jess, who was accused of being responsible for the death of their beloved son Callum Thai Jess through wilful neglect.

Callum was just nine weeks and four days old when he was found dead in his Saintfield home on August 24, 2008. Shortly afterwards Mr Jess was arrested and charged in connection with his death.

The 29-year-old Saintfield father-of-three wept in court yesterday when the prosecution announced that charges against him of child cruelty and causing the death of his son were to be dropped.

Just moments after a jury of eight men and four women were sworn to try the case at Downpatrick Crown Court, prosecuting QC David Hunter told the court that "in all the present circumstances in this tragic case, the prosecution do not intend to call any evidence".

Trial judge Mr Justice McLaughlin told the jury that as the prosecution had reviewed the case and had decided not to call any evidence, then Mr Jess was entitled to be found not guilty.

He said that in light of the prosecution decision he would direct them to acquit the kickboxer, who was once the British Welterweight Crown Champion.

Mr Justice McLaughlin also told the jury that while they had not heard any details surrounding the tragic death of young Callum, it appeared that the infant had been sleeping on the sofa with his father at some stage.

Speaking from her Saintfield home, Mr Jess's partner said she had never believed that he had been responsible for the death of their son.

"Stuart is a wonderful father. All he wanted to be was a dad and when we had Callum he was over the Moon. I couldn't believe when they tried to say he was responsible for Callum's death. Everybody was in shock. I never believed it. Nobody who knows him believed it," Ms McCormick said.

She added: "Even the police didn't want to go ahead with the prosecution. It was somebody in the PPS who kept pushing it. I am very angry that they put us through this for three years. There are so many things about the case that we kept telling them were not right, but we felt that nobody would listen to us.

"We haven't been able to grieve properly for Callum. We now want to be able to grieve for him."

The mother-of-three added that yesterday's court decision has brought to an end a three-year fight to prove Mr Jess was innocent.

"We are relieved, but there is no cause for celebration - we do not have Callum. It is a day of mixed emotions," she said.

"Callum was only nine weeks and four days old when he died but we have lots of lovely memories of him.

"We have so many photographs and video clips of him, so we are lucky that way.

"We always talk about him. He was our little boy and we will never forget him."

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