Killer uncle who shook baby to death while watching football jailed for 9 years
A man shook his baby nephew to death in a bid to ‘make him quiet’ while he was watching football on TV.
James Scott, 31, was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for nine years after killing the three-month-old child in June 2018.
Scott, of Coventry, shook Arlo Breslin so hard he broke the tot’s ribs and caused ‘irreversible brain damage’, leaving him ‘floppy and lifeless’.
Doctors confirmed that the child was brain dead and his life support was turned off in July 2018, CoventryLive reports.
Judge Martin Griffiths described Arlo as a ‘sweet and tiny baby’ who had his whole life ahead of him after overcoming being born prematurely.
The case comes shortly after the killers of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes were locked up after his death in Solihull.
A jury at Warwick Crown Court found Scott, of Old Church Road, Coventry, not guilty of murder, but guilty of the alternative charge of manslaughter on Friday.
During his sentencing on December 13, Judge Griffiths explained that on the morning of June 29, 2018, Scott’s sister took her three older children to school and left her son Arlo alone in the care of her brother.
“She left him lying in your arms and drifting off to sleep – she was only away for 45 minutes,” he said.
“By the time she got back, you had shaken Arlo into unconsciousness, causing him irreversible brain damage from which he never recovered. The first thing she saw on her return was Arlo floppy and lifeless in your arms.”
He went on to say that no one could have saved him, although his grandfather, a medical expert, tried CPR, as did paramedics.
“The brain injury you inflicted on Arlo was beyond repair – he never recovered, he was confirmed brain dead by two doctors and his life support was turned off on July 2, 2018,” he said.
The judge dismissed Scott’s claims that one of his siblings could have been responsible.
“I am certain you made this up to deflect blame,” he said
“You picked him up and shook him back and forth with such force that his brain function was damaged, his breathing stopped, his heart stopped and his death was inevitable.”
As Scott had never admitted guilt, the judge explained what he believed happened, saying: “You had had a bad night and you were tired, you wanted to watch the football highlights on television and you didn’t like having to look after and watch Arlo as well.”
He went on to explain that, as the jury found him not guilty of murder, he did not mean to kill Arlo, nor cause him serious harm.
“You wanted to make him quiet and still while you concentrated on the television,” the judge added.
“That is why you shook him, but you did it with such force that you killed him.”
He said that Scott had lied about not touching Arlo before his brain damage and the fit he suffered afterwards – and said its impact ‘shattered’ the family.
“A chain of events was started which meant the death of this little child at your hands, when he should have been safe in your care – the beginning of other tragedies for this bereaved families,” he said.
As a result of the incident, Arlo’s brothers and sister were taken from their parents and it was more than 20 months before they were reunited as a family.
“All this time, you maintained your lie that you had not done anything to Arlo that could have possibly caused him any harm,” he said.
Defence barrister, Nicholas Johnson QC, had previously explained that Scott has a mild learning disability and a lower than average IQ.
He said that the two factors played a degree in his culpability – because of his emotional instability and lack of inability to deal with stressful situations.
“The defendant was particularly vulnerable and he was in a position of trust,” the defence barrister said.
Judge Griffiths explained that this was a mitigating factor, as well as the fact Scott was of previous ‘good character’ and had not any previous criminal record or offences.
He said that all witnesses said Scott was ‘brilliant’ with all of the children and was ‘devoted’ to Arlo.
“I am satisfied that although you had a lower IQ of 67, placing you in the bottom two per cent of the population, just below the border of disability, which is 70, you knew that grasping and shaking this little baby, with such force, with his head unsupported and holding tightly, enough to fracture his back ribs, carried a high risk of causing him really serious harm,” he said.
“Although it was not your intention to cause that harm, I do not think that you realised there was a high risk of death.”
He added: “You have never been violent to adults or to children – this offence was completely out of character.
“It was also not pre-mediated. The prosecution opened and closed the case on the basis of in intent formed in an instant, lasting a moment and to be regretted for a lifetime: that is also my conclusion from the evidence.”
He sentenced to Scott to nine years in prison – minus 234 days served on remand awaiting the trial.
He will serve two-thirds of his sentence and will then be released on licence.