On Air Now
Heart's Club Classics with Toby Anstis 7pm - 10pm
14 May 2012, 15:58 | Updated: 14 May 2012, 17:41
A man has been found guilty of murdering a five year old boy in Peterborough.
Tyler Whelan [pictured - right] died in March last year after collapsing at his home in Sheepwalk in the Paston area of Peterborough.
The toddler had been admitted to hospital on several occasions before his death, which prompted doctors to contact social services.
Today (Monday) at Cambridge Crown Court his mother's former partner Elvis Lee, 34, was found guilty of murder after almost 11 hours of jury deliberations.
The boy's mother, Stephanie Whelan [pictured - below], 27, was found guilty of allowing his death.
Lee had admitted manslaughter, saying he had assaulted Tyler by kicking him in the abdomen and biting him on the leg but had not intended to seriously hurt him.
However, following almost 11 hours of deliberations, the jury decided Lee had intended to either kill or seriously harm Tyler and found him guilty of murder.
Whelan, of Sheepwalk, Paston, but originally from Wigan, and Lee, of Crabtree, Paston, were each cleared of two counts of cruelty or neglect relating to their failure to seek prompt medical attention on previous occasions.
Whelan sobbed and hung her head as the verdict was delivered.
Lee shouted at jurors and protested his innocence as they left the courtroom.
The court heard Lee had 56 previous offences, including dishonesty, affray and violence.
Police had been alerted to alleged attacks by him on Whelan but he was never convicted.
The judge ordered that the pair be remanded in custody to be sentenced at a later date.
A serious case review, assessing the handling of Tyler's care by agencies including social services, is expected to be published shortly.
Superintendent Simon Megicks said: "This was a wicked crime in which an innocent five-year-old was murdered by a person who should have been looking after him.
Lee is a controlling and violent man who lost his temper and inflicted fatal injuries to Tyler.
Whelan has been found to have allowed his death following these fatal injuries.
Tyler deserved more from his mother.
Every child has the right to be protected and feel safe in their own home and it is a parent's responsibility to ensure this is the case.
Thankfully, this type of crime is very unusual.
It is our responsibility to ensure that offenders are identified and effectively brought to justice and I am pleased that this has happened in this case.
I hope this verdict brings peace to Tyler's relatives knowing justice has been done.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the team of detectives, Crown Prosecution Service staff and experts who worked on the inquiry and the court case and ensured Lee and Whelan were brought to justice."
Lee and Whelan have been remanded in custody.
Lee is expected to be sentenced tomorrow morning (Tuesday) and Whelan is expected to be sentenced in June.
Tyler's father, Shaun Harrison, has released the following tribute to his son: "The last year of my life has been unbearable.
Tyler was a fun-loving, mischievous little boy with a big heart and amazing smile.
I feel lost without him in my life and I still can't believe he's gone.
It hurts me that I will never get the chance to see him grow up and see the man he should have become.
I have no malice towards his (Elvis Lee) or her (Stephanie Whelan) family.
Whelan and Lee are responsible for Tyler's death, not their families.
The trial is over and the jury has reached its verdict.
I'd like to leave Tyler to rest in peace and for me and my family to be left to grieve.
I'd like to thank all those involved in the case and the support that have given to me and my family."