Telford Dad Jailed For Killing 'Smiley and Cheerful' Boy

1 April 2015, 14:33 | Updated: 1 April 2015, 14:38

The Telford father of a "smiley and cheerful'' 11-month-old boy convicted over the killing has been jailed for 10 years.

Paul Thomas was earlier convicted by majority verdict of the manslaughter Oliver Sargent - who suffered head injuries consistent with a 40mph car crash - after a five-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Thomas, from Telford in Shropshire, was acquitted of murder.

Sentencing the 29-year-old builder, Mr Justice Nicholas Green told him he had killed his son "in a moment of unthinking madness'', leaving the boy with "catastrophic and fatal injuries''.

He added: "Oliver was a smiley, cheerful baby, deprived of the chance of a full and happy life.''

The judge accepted evidence that at times, Thomas could be "a good and loving father'', but he told him "you had a temper and a short fuse'', which had left his only son with irreversible and devastating brain damage.

Oliver died in July 2012, four days after a 999 call reporting that he had stopped breathing while at home in Telford.

Post-mortem tests established that Oliver, who had 13 separate marks on his body and face, had been subjected to at least one impact to the left side of his head.

Further investigations by medical experts found historic injuries, including two fractured ribs and broken left collar bone, which had all healed.

Thomas's wife, Ashlea Thomas was handed a two-year jail term, suspended for two years, after she was convicted by majority verdict of causing or allowing the death of her son.

Mr Justice Green told her: "You were genuinely concerned and cared for Oliver.''

However, he added she "never accepted Paul was a risk to Oliver and you repeated this assertion in court''.

He added she was a somewhat "naive'' character, having first fallen pregnant aged 16, but had then chosen to have the baby despite Mr Thomas asking her for a termination.

"You had it in you to be a good mother,'' said the judge, telling her he did not believe she had ever attempted to deceive medical staff when taking her boy to see hospital doctors, concerning his medical ailments.

He added: "It is impossible to say that had you raised concerns, they would have led to Oliver being alive today.

"But ultimately it is a lost possibility Oliver might have been saved.''

The court had heard evidence of texts sent four months before the baby's death, where Mrs Thomas had accused her husband of banging the child's head but accepted his apparently innocent explanation.

She was acquitted of the murdering her child and an alternative charge of manslaughter.

During the trial, Thomas had suggested his pet dog may have "accidentally'' injured Oliver, who suffered a bleed on the brain after being shaken.

Oliver was rushed to hospital in Telford on July 27, 2012, after his father called 999 and was eventually transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

While there, a nurse overheard Mrs Thomas ask her mother "how long do you think I am going to get'' while Thomas asked a police officer what sort of prison sentence someone might get for what had happened to his son.

Mrs Thomas, a 21-year-old nursery nurse, and her husband had only moved into their home in Priory Way, Telford, a few weeks before the call to the emergency services.

During their trial, the couple both denied injuring Oliver, who they claimed had been found in a "lifeless'' condition in his cot.