Father who killed baby son by shaking him at home in Sussex is jailed

A father who caused the death of his tiny baby son at their home in Sussex has been jailed.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 11:35 am
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 1:41 pm
Christopher Barnes was convicted of causing the death of his baby son, Harry

Harry Barnes was just 10 weeks old when he was rushed from his home in Midhurst to St Richard's Hospital in Chichester in June 2017.

However despite doctors best efforts, Harry died the following day.

His dad Christopher Barnes was convicted on Monday of manslaughter and inflicting grievous bodily harm after a trial at Lewes Crown Court.

Barnes stood trial at Lewes Crown Court

Barnes, 28, of Barlavington Way, Midhurst, had claimed he was not responsible for what happened to Harry and always held him properly.

He was jailed today for six and a half years, the court confirmed.

Sentenced to prison term

Barnes appeared at Lewes Crown Court for sentencing today.

Mrs Justice Ingrid Simler DBE - who was the judge throughout his trial - was the one who passed sentence.

Barnes was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for the manslaughter charge, and two years for inflicting grievous bodily harm.

The sentences will run concurrently, giving a total sentence of six and a half years.

'We now have justice for Harry'

Following the conviction, Harry's distraught mum Laura Millins said she 'finally has the truth'.

Laura and others were seen in tears after the jury verdicts were read out in court this afternoon.

In an emotional statement, she said: "We now have justice for Harry after going through something so traumatic that has changed our lives forever.

"As we approach what would have been Harry's 2nd birthday we finally have the truth.

"Harry will always be in our hearts."

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His heart stopped beating and he stopped breathing'

Barnes, a heating engineer, had been alone with baby Harry when he collapsed, his trial at Lewes Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Jennifer Knight said earlier in the trial: “Sometime before 12.37pm on 24th June 2017, 10 week old Harry Barnes collapsed.

“His heart stopped beating and he stopped breathing.

“He never regained consciousness and he died the next day when life support was withdrawn.

“The medical evidence revealed that Harry Barnes’ injuries had been caused during at least two episodes of injury, one around the time of his collapse and another several days earlier.

“It is the crown’s case that this defendant Christopher Barnes, Harry Barnes’ father, who was alone with him at the time of his collapse is responsible for his death and also for the injuries that had been caused to him.”

Barnes: 'He meant the world to me'

Throughout the trial Barnes denied the offences, saying he knew how to safely hold Harry.

Speaking at his trial, Barnes told Lewes Crown Court: “Most of the time I spend with him when I got home from work was when he was crying.”

Prosecutor Jennifer Knight asked him: “Isn’t the reality of it that you know perfectly well that you are responsible for what happened to Harry?”

Barnes said: “I am not responsible for what happened to Harry.”

Miss Knight said: “You are not brave enough to admit what you did to Harry, are you?”

Barnes replied: “It wasn’t me. I never hurt that little boy. He meant the world to me."

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Whilst the magnitude of what he did will no doubt weigh heavy on Barnes’s shoulders, the repercussions of his actions will have a long-lasting and devastating impact on a family robbed of the chance of watching Harry grow up.

“Babies can be demanding but it is important that those caring for them reach out and seek help if they are experiencing difficulties.

“At the same time it is vital people report any concerns they may have about the welfare of a child at the earliest opportunity as swift action could mean the difference between life and death.”