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No charges over toddler Liam Gonzalez Bennett's killing


Liam Gonzalez Bennett. Liam had suffered 31 bruises to his head which could have been caused by a fist

Liam Gonzalez Bennett. Liam had suffered 31 bruises to his head which could have been caused by a fist

Liam Gonzalez Bennett. Liam had suffered 31 bruises to his head which could have been caused by a fist

No charges are to be brought in the case of a toddler who died from severe head injuries, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

Prosecutors have concluded there is insufficient evidence to identify the killer of Liam Gonzalez Bennett.

The 20-month-old suffered 31 injuries to his head which medical experts said could have been the result of being punched.

At the time Liam's mother and stepfather were arrested and questioned by police, but prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence to charge either of them.

Both strongly denied having any role in, or knowledge of, the toddler's death.

The issue came back under the spotlight in October 2013 when an inquest concluded that Liam's death had been non-accidental.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson said it was "disturbing" that no one had been made amenable.

She referred the matter back to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for a review.

This newspaper has learned that the review was completed last month, with a decision taken not to bring charges.

Letters informing the relevant parties of the outcome were issued this week.

Marianne O'Kane, regional prosecutor from the Public Prosecution Service's eastern region, said all available evidence had been examined exhaustively.

"There has been a thorough review of all the available evidence and information in this case, arising from both the police investigation into the death of baby Liam and following the conclusion of the inquest into the circumstances of his death," she said.

"While it is clear that baby Liam's death was as a result of non-accidental injury, the evidence available is not sufficient to establish the identity of the person or persons responsible for causing that injury.

"I assure the public that every care has been taken in this case. We have worked closely with police and the evidence has been exhaustively examined and reviewed by senior lawyers within the PPS.

"Those involved in this case have been informed of the outcome of the review and also of the fact that the case may be re-opened should any relevant new evidence or information become available in future."

A solicitor acting for Samantha Bennett, Liam's mother, said she was disappointed at the lack of progress. Ernie Waterworth said: "She is disappointed that after this length of time the situation has still not been resolved."

Liam died on February 8, 2009, a day after he was rushed to hospital from his home at Sunningdale Park in Ballymena. The toddler had suffered 31 head injuries, causing brain swelling, severe damage to nerve fibres and haemorrhaging.

The inquest heard his mother and stepfather, Noel McKeown, were arrested by detectives leading a murder inquiry and were questioned several times. They denied causing any of the injuries.

A file was sent to the PPS at the time but no prosecution was brought as there was deemed to be insufficient evidence to charge either. The inquest heard nobody else was being sought in connection with the toddler's death.

Belfast Telegraph