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Man jailed for shaking 15-week-old baby to death

Published 10/06/2016

Zaiidyn Burke suffered unsurvivable brain injuries when Paul Burgess assaulted him at a property in Dumfries in 2012 (PA/Police Scotland)
Zaiidyn Burke suffered unsurvivable brain injuries when Paul Burgess assaulted him at a property in Dumfries in 2012 (PA/Police Scotland)

A man who lost his temper and killed a 15-week-old baby boy by shaking him has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

Zaiidyn Burke suffered unsurvivable brain injuries when Paul Burgess, 25, assaulted him at a property in Dumfries on October 27 2012.

The youngster died in hospital two days later, where one medic described the degree of haemorrhaging suffered by the baby as the worst he had seen in his career.

A court heard Burgess, who was supposed to have been looking after the child, had been smoking cannabis and had consumed a "significant amount of alcohol" the night before the attack.

He went to a Hallowe'en party, dressed in a costume, while the child's parents were at the hospital.

Burgess, of Galloway Street, was initially charged with murder but last month pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday, judge Lord Boyd said Burgess had so far led an "unproductive and selfish" life, marked by alcohol and cannabis misuse.

He said: "The death of any young child is always devastating but even more so when the death is by criminal acts of another person."

A previous court hearing was told that Burgess was left alone with the baby for about an hour on the afternoon in question while Zaiidyn's mother Jade Caven took a young girl to hospital after she fell.

When Miss Caven returned, Burgess "seemed nervous" and said the baby had not wanted to drink much from his full bottle of milk - a claim the boy's mother found to be unusual.

She then noticed her son's lips and face were turning blue and he appeared "completely lifeless".

When the ambulance arrived, Miss Caven was "hysterical" but Burgess - who had started a relationship with the boy's mother after she gave birth to Zaiidyn - was calm. The relationship has since ended.

Zaiidyn was taken to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and then transferred to the Yorkhill Children's Hospital in Glasgow.

The judge heard a scan of the baby's head and spine showed he had the type of brain injury caused in baby-shaking cases.

A consultant who examined him said the extent and degree of the haemorrhaging was the worst he had seen since qualifying as a doctor in 1993.

Zaiidyn died on October 29 2012 after he was taken off a life-support system.

The prosecutor told the court at the last occasion: "The Crown accepts that on that afternoon the accused, for some as yet unknown reason but most probably associated with difficulty feeding the baby, suffered a loss of temper and shook the baby with sufficient force to cause fatal brain injuries."

Lord Boyd said Burgess would have been jailed for nine years if the case had gone to trial.

Locking him up for seven years six months, the judge said victim impact statements from the boy's mother and father Lee Burke set out the extent of their grief and loss.

He added there was further hurt caused by an initial "deception" by Burgess over his part in Zaiidyn's death.

"You must have been well aware that what you were doing would injure the child," he said.

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