Parents will not face trial over baby death

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The parents of a disabled toddler who died two years after his birth will not face trial after the prosecution decided to offer no evidence against them.

Caroline Kemp was just 17 when she gave birth to her son Corinthian at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary back in August 2007, but within days the baby was taken to a special baby care unit after staff were told he was “floppy”.

An inquest heard how the child had been made subject to a protection order immediately after his birth and an examination at the baby unit revealed intercranial bleeding.

Corinthian suffered cerebral palsy, blindness and epilepsy and tragically died in his mother’s arms the day after his second birthday in 2009.

Kemp and the boy’s father Thomas Corcoran, both now aged 22, were due to stand trial on an allegation of causing or allowing the death of a child under Section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

The complex charge alleged that they either caused the boy’s death by an unlawful act or failed to take reasonable steps to protect Corinthian from a significant risk of serious physical harm.

Kemp, of Erringden Road, Mytholmroyd, and Corcoran, of Croft Gardens, Birkby, Huddersfield, today (Wednesday) formally pleaded not guilty to the charge during an pre-trial hearing at Bradford Crown Court and prosecutor Nicholas Campbell QC confirmed the decision by the Crown to offer no evidence against them.

Mr Campbell told Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC that it was a relatively new offence which involved a number of hurdles the prosecution had to negotiate to establish a case.

“The case was listed before you today to hear arguments on whether there is sufficient evidence to go before a jury,” said Mr Campbell.

“Having considered again the arguments put forward on behalf of both defendants the prosecution has taken the view that there is insufficient evidence to seek to place this case before a jury.

“In particular the evidence that there was at the relevant time a significant risk of serious physical harm being caused to Corinthian Kemp by the unlawful act of either defendant is found to be wanting.”

Kemp’s barrister Adrian Waterman QC stressed that there was significant disagreement among the various experts involved in the case, including those consulted by the prosecution, about what it was that caused the tragic decline and later death of Corinthian; whether it was an assault or a rare, but not unknown, spontaneous veinous thrombosis.

“It is important to make clear.. that the defence do not accept and never have accepted that there was any assault.”

Mr Waterman said his client was relieved that the trial process was at an end and there was a formal verdict of not guilty, but added: “Of course she continues to live with the sadness of the loss of Corinthian.”

Corcoran’s barrister John Elvidge QC said the proceedings had been going on for many, many months.

“This is a complex case. No-one would suggest otherwise,” he added.

“The defendant Thomas Corcoran is entitled to be acquitted and a not guilty verdict be entered in his case.’’

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC noted that the particulars of the charge included about 140 words and he described it as an extremely difficult and complicated offence for even experienced lawyers to work their way through and consider.

“The Act of Parliament and the section in particular is welcome,” said the judge.

“The Law Commission and the Government and lawyers clearly recognised that this was an exceptional and radical departure from accepted principles.

“They would be the first to acknowledge that in setting, for reasons of safety and protection, so many hurdles and hoops for all to consider that it was meant to be very rare in its application.”

The judge said the only course the court could take was to direct not guilty verdicts in the case of each defendant.