A couple have been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison after their eight-week-old baby died with more than 60 broken bones.
Former Army Reservist Benjamin O’Shea, 26, from Southwark, London, was jailed for eight and a half years for causing or allowing baby Amina-Faye to suffer serious bodily harm.
Naomi Johnson, 24, from Battersea, London, was sentenced to seven years for this offence.
The couple was detained by the police after the sudden death of their daughter in April 2019.
A radiological examination found that the girl had died with 41 rib fractures and 24 limb fractures, according to the Mirror.
When she died, Amina had 41 rib fractures and 24 limb fractures.
During police interviews, the couple blamed paramedics for their baby’s fractures, but a jury found them guilty of causing or allowing her to suffer serious bodily harm.
Judge Nigel Peters QC, sentencing at Inner London Crown Court, said “sadly” this is “yet another heartbreaking case of parents abusing or cruel to their children”, adding “there is no doubt that this is a case of the highest severity in terms of cruelty to children in terms of injuries.
Doctors were unable to establish the cause of death for “this poor child” and it is not possible to place blame on which parent caused the fatal injuries and who stepped back and allowed it to happen, the court heard.
The judge added that “it is remarkable in this case” that there were no signs of fractures, but medical experts had determined that the injuries were not accidental and that force was necessary.
Both also received two months each, to be served consecutively, after being found guilty of cruelty to a person under the age of 16 in relation to a separate child.
Radiologists found that the multiple fractures were highly indicative that Amina had suffered ongoing physical abuse.
On the morning of April 26, 2019, the couple called 999 after Amina stopped breathing.
Paramedics arrived within minutes and attempted to save the eight-week-old girl’s life, but sadly she died at the scene.
Metropolitan Police said there were no visible signs of injury at the time and his death was originally thought to be a sudden unexplained death.
The first fractures were discovered during a radiological examination carried out because there were no visible injuries on Amina’s body, but the cause of death was not established.
As a result of these findings, police launched an investigation and arrested O’Shea and Johnson in early May 2019.
On September 11, 2019, O’Shea and Johnson were rearrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.
The couple repeatedly lied about the circumstances that led to little Amina’s death and even blamed paramedics for the fractures, Inner London Crown Court heard.
They suggested that Amina’s death might have been the result of the vaccinations she received when she was taken to the GP one day before her death and that the fractures to her ribs were caused by the paramedics performing CPR.
Edmund Vickers, defending, said that O’Shea had also performed CPR in an attempt to save his daughter’s life.
“The consequences finally caught up with them and they panicked,” Judge Nigel Peters said.
Vickers also said that because O’Shea did not know the cause of death, he was exploring the reasons for the rib fractures by suggesting paramedics were responsible.
After Amina’s death, O’Shea wrote a letter to the police on ‘semi-official’ paper posing as the ‘chief metropolitan magistrate’ suggesting that any proceedings were ‘not in order’.
He also called the police posing as a neighbor in an attempt to frame Johnson.
“He was never charged with perverting the course of justice or wasting police time,” Mr. Vickers said.
He accepts the verdict of the jury and does not wish to question it.
The couple’s text messages revealed a ‘manipulative and abusive’ relationship with O’Shea bragging about his military service when in fact he had only been a reservist for a couple of years.
There were messages describing how a second child had been slapped and denied water because they had gotten dirty.
O’Shea also texted Johnson discussing his difficulty staying calm after that boy spilled a drink at a fast food restaurant.
O’Shea had also made numerous calls to NHS 111 between 2016 and 2019 referring to her self-diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and aggression issues.
He said his post-traumatic stress disorder was the result of a tour in Afghanistan, but this was “totally untrue”, Judge Peters said.
Detectives found a call Johnson had made to NHS 111 on April 1, 2019 reporting that Amina had been coughing up blood.
When the doctor called back and spoke to O’Shea and advised her to take Amina to the hospital, O’Shea did not tell Johnson and the girl stayed home.
Justice Peters said: “Sadly, this is yet another heartbreaking case of parents who are abusive and cruel to their children.”
‘There were at least seven occasions where the injuries occurred. There were 41 rib fractures and 24 extremity fractures, both of the right and left arm, and of the left and right leg, culminating in the worst injury of all, a massive fracture of the right femur.
‘On the evidence itself that it could only have been caused by a vicious and brutal attack.
‘It is remarkable in this case that there were no outward signs of her fractures. The evidence of all the doctors who examined the baby after death was that they were not accidental.
She added that both parents shared the same guilt because, as long-term caregivers, it is inconceivable that they would not have realized that the baby was suffering.
‘The evidence is that significant force was used to break the right femur. As a result, the baby would have been very distressed and in pain and therefore, whether the perpetrator or not, the significant distress would be such that any long-term carer would notice.”
Explaining his reasons for giving O’Shea a higher sentence, he said, “His behavior after the boy’s death deserves aggravation.” It shows an intent on your part to interfere with the process of justice.’
Don’t miss out on the latest news from Scotland and beyond – sign up for our daily newsletter here.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.