Baby neglect couple freed

A Suffolk couple jailed for neglecting their baby son were freed today by Appeal Court judges.The couple were convicted of "cruelty by neglect" to the three-week old baby at Ipswich Crown Court in August and both jailed for six months.

A Suffolk couple jailed for neglecting their baby son were freed today by Appeal Court judges.

The couple were convicted of "cruelty by neglect" to the three-week old baby at Ipswich Crown Court in August and both jailed for six months.

They were acquitted of more serious charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to the baby, who was found to have fractured ribs, a broken pelvis, bruising to the scrotum and bleeding of the brain.

Lord Justice May, sitting in London with Mr Justice Roderick Evans and Judge Jeremy Roberts QC, today cut the couple's sentences to two-year conditional discharges.

And he ordered no personal details be revealed about the family, who come from just outside Stowmarket, in order to protect to child in the case.

He ruled the original terms were "manifestly excessive" as the baby's injuries had been hard to detect.

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The judge said the baby was born in the Autumn of 2001 with mother and child spending the next few days at his grandparents' house.

Twelve days later the mother took the baby to a doctor after she noticed a bruise on his scrotum while changing his nappy.

But the doctor's examination did not reveal any further injuries except a "small red mark the size of a match head on his penis" - which the GP thought could be attributable to a nappy rash.

Five days later the boy began to vomit blood and was taken to hospital where the full extent of his injuries came to light.

Lawyers for the mother argued six months was excessive because the boys injuries were missed on numerous occasions during visits to health professionals.

They also argued she should be dealt with favourably as the trial judge had failed to take into account the effect of having her child taken away from her so soon after his birth.

The father's lawyers argued these factors should also apply to him.

And they claimed the blame should lie more with the mother as she was the primary carer.

Allowing the appeals, Lord Justice May said: "It is to be observed that this is a very worrying case."

In reaching his verdict, the judge said either the doctor or the other healthcare professionals should have spotted the injuries.

He said: "In these circumstances, we have come to the conclusion that it's appropriate to allow this appeal and quash the custodial sentences."

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