Belfast Telegraph

Waiter Whoriskey, jailed for killing little Kayden McGuinness (3), to appeal conviction

From left, Liam Whoriskey and Kayden's mother Erin McLaughlin
From left, Liam Whoriskey and Kayden's mother Erin McLaughlin
Kayden McGuinness

By George Jackson

A 25-year-old waiter jailed yesterday for 15 years for battering his fiancee's three-year-old son to death is to appeal against his conviction.

Liam Whoriskey has instructed his legal team to lodge papers with the Court of Appeal.

Despite a jury finding him unanimously guilty two months- ago of the manslaughter of Kayden McGuinness in the boy's family home at Colmcille Court in the Bogside area of Derry on September 17, 2017, and unanimously guilty of child cruelty against Kayden the month before the child's death, Whoriskey maintains his innocence.

Whoriskey, from Glenabbey Gardens in the Skeoge area of the city, who became engaged to Kayden's mother Erin McLaughlin a week before he killed her vulnerable son, showed no emotion when he was jailed at Derry Crown Court for 15 years by Judge Philip Babington.

Whoriskey will serve half of the sentence in prison and half on licence. He's already served two years in custody since Kayden's death.

Ms McLaughlin wept in court as Judge Babington delivered his 16 page long sentencing comments for half an hour.

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Kayden McGuinness

Judge Babington said Whoriskey had "submitted Kayden to a battering" on the night he babysat the boy and Kayden's five-month-old sister in their family home.

Kayden was found dead in his bed by Whoriskey, who had failed to check on the boy for 10 hours.

Kayden, whose mother was out overnight socialising with family members and friends, the first time she'd gone out since the birth of her daughter, was found with extensive bruising to his face and at least 15 non-accidental blunt force trauma injuries to his head.

As a result of one or two of the blows, bleeding in the form of a subdural haemorrhage occurred which resulted in a swelling of the brain.

"The medical evidence was that it was a combination of the subdural haemorrhage and the cerebral oedema that was responsible for Kayden's death. Kayden's death was unlikely to have been immediate as there were subtle changes in his brain indicating a period of survival of at least half an hour after the fatal head injury was sustained," Judge Babington said.

He said there were a number of aggravating factors in the case.

"The age of Kayden. He was about three-and-a-half-years-old when he was killed. At the time of his death he was being assessed in relation to autism. He had very little by way of communication skills and his speech was very limited. All in all he was a particularly vulnerable child.

"The defendant was in a position of a parent or guardian at the relevant time. He could be said to have been in the position almost of stepfather and living in the same accommodation as Kayden. His treatment of Kayden represents an extremely serious breach of trust.

"The acts leading to the unlawful killing of Kayden were not isolated as the jury found he had previously assaulted Kayden on August 15, 2017. As the prosecution suggest his actions represent a progression from the earlier event.

"The defendant's behaviour illustrated that he had a propensity for aggression and violence in a domestic setting and in particular the former relating to children. Kayden received multiple injuries as a result of the act or acts occasioned by the defendant in the form of bruising to his head and scalp," he said. Judge Babington said another aggravating factor was that Whoriskey's defence team had accused Kayden's mother Erin McLaughlin of being "potentially the person responsible for the injuries causing Kayden's death". Whoriskey, who moved in with Ms McLaughlin six weeks before he killed her son, told a probation officer he believed he was the victim of domestic violence.

Judge Babington said he had read victim impact reports from Ms McLaughlin and from Kayden's grandmother Kathleen McGuinness.

"Both are devastated by not only Kayden's death but in Erin's case by not being there to help him. This court can only express its sympathy as any sentence imposed on the defendant pales into insignificance when contrasted with the fact that a very young child has died in this way.

"One can only hope that this trial brings some form of closure for the greater family circle and particularly his mother", he said.

"There are few worse crimes than causing the death of a young child," he added.

Judge Babington said Whoriskey should never have been left in charge of Kayden after he'd assaulted the boy the month before killing him "but of course he was able to convince Kayden's mother that he was not responsible". He then imposed a 13 year jail sentence on the manslaughter conviction and a two year consecutive sentence on the child cruelty conviction.

Meanwhile the police officer who headed the 20 strong team of detectives who investigated Kayden's death, said yesterday he wanted people to remember Kayden as "a beautiful three-year-old Derry boy who, in his family's own words, was a happy, smiling and much-loved child".

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