Couple are convicted of causing death of nine-week-old son after drunken night arguing about having a lack of sex due to their newborn child
- Luke Morgan, 26, Emma Cole, 22, were found guilty of allowing/causing death
- Couple had been drinking on night he was found with fractured ribs in 2014
- The pair, of Burntwood, Staffordshire, were cleared of murder after trial
The parents of a baby who died with broken ribs after being smothered have been found guilty of causing or allowing his death.
Neighbours heard Luke Morgan, 26, and Emma Cole, 22, having a drunken argument in the early hours of April 29 2014.
Their six-week trial heard they were rowing about not having enough money and being unable to have sex because their nine-week-old baby Tyler was crying.
Little Tyler was found with broken ribs and what appeared to be a human bite mark when paramedics finally arrived at their flat in Burntwood, Staffordshire at 2.51am.
Jurors heard there was a ‘significant’ delay in contacting the emergency services after Tyler was smothered and collapsed in the early hours. He was rushed to hospital but died shortly after 4am.
Morgan and Cole were also found guilty of child cruelty but were cleared of charges of murder and manslaughter after a trial at Stafford Crown Court.
Luke Morgan, 26, and Emma Cole, 22, both pictured outside Stafford Crown Court at an earlier hearing, were today found guilty of causing or allowing the death of their nine-week-old baby Tyler in April 2014
The couple held hands in the dock and appeared tearful following the jury’s verdicts following more than 11 hours of deliberations.
Mugshot: Luke Morgan was cleared of murder but found guilty of child cruelty and allowing or causing the death of his child
Opening the Crown’s case at the start of the trial, prosecutor Andrew Smith QC showed jurors a picture of an injury to Tyler’s right forearm which pathologists said was a ‘probable’ bite mark.
Mr Smith told a jury of seven men and five women: ‘At 2.42am on the 29th of April 2014, Emma Cole dialled 999 to send an ambulance to her home address.
‘Tyler Morgan, the nine-week-old son of the defendants, had collapsed before the call was made.
‘The prosecution’s case is that Tyler’s collapse was caused by his being intentionally smothered or his chest being compressed.
‘That intentional smothering and/or chest compression occurred when the defendants were alone with Tyler in their home.
‘Subsequent investigations discovered that Tyler had sustained serious injuries before his death, including fractured ribs, that could only have been caused while he was in the care of his parents.’
The couple are pictured arriving at Stafford Crown Court at one hearing of their six-week trial
The jury of eight men and six women heard how Morgan would sometimes make his son play air drums and had struck him on the back at least one occasion.
Mr Smith said Morgan would also put lemon juice or chilli crisps on the child’s tongue.
The court was told how on the night a neighbour had heard an argument between the defendants while Tyler was crying.
Guilty: Emma Cole, 22, was found guilty of the same charges
Mr Price said: ‘Luke Morgan was angry because he wanted to have sex with Miss Cole and had been prevented by Tyler being up.
‘On the night of April 28, a neighbour went to bed at 10.30pm and she could hear them having an argument about having no money Emma was sobbing.
‘In the early hours of April 29 there was a high pitch screech from Miss Cole.
‘Barry and Helen Wood, in the flat above heard arguing in the hours before Tyler collapsed, they thought it may have been taking place in the kitchen.
‘Mrs Wood said they were shouting at each other at 1am.
‘The prosecution say they were having the arguments at a time when they were drinking alcohol.’
Cole dialled 999 at 2.42am to report Tyler was not breathing and was instructed to perform CPR by call-handlers.
Mr Price added: ‘At 2.52am the first of the ambulance crew were met by Luke, he was crying and upset but showed the crew into the property.
‘Tyler was lying with his back on the floor. Emma Cole was trying to do chest compressions. She was plainly very upset.
‘When the paramedics were began to assess Tyler in the bedroom he was showing no signs of life and was in cardiac arrest. He showed no response.’
After paramedics arrived at the couple’s home, the court heard Morgan said he believed Tyler’s collapse was a ‘cot death’ and claimed he had been unable to wake him.
Tyler, who was in cardiac arrest, was taken to Walsall Manor Hospital, arriving at 3.40am, and was pronounced dead at 4.03am.
Following the verdicts, Judge Michael Chambers Chambers QC said the offences clearly crossed the custody threshold.
Before bailing the defendants, the judge thanked the jury and told the panel members: ‘That ends your role in this case – a case which has lasted since the beginning of April.
‘I will need to adjourn the case to decide the appropriate sentence. Almost certainly I will need the assistance of the Probation Service in preparing the appropriate reports.
‘I will have to very carefully consider balancing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances.’ They will be sentenced on June 21.
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