A dad who killed his seven-week-old baby boy has been jailed for 12 years.
Brian Penn, 30, carried out the fatal attack on Kaleb Penn at his home in Ayr, South Ayrshire, on November 1, 2017.
He had tried to pin the blame on the boy’s mum, but it was Penn who violently shook Kaleb and inflicted an unknown blunt force trauma on him.
The stricken child was found to have suffered a skull fracture, a bleed to the brain, a serious brain injury and fractured ribs.
Penn initially claimed to medics the boy had suffered a “choking episode” but he died two days later in hospital.
Penn was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow of culpable homicide and a separate charge of assault to Kaleb’s severe injury and danger of life.
He had originally been charged with murder and a further allegation of attempted murder.
Judge Lord Weir told Penn at Wednesday’s sentencing that he inflicted wounds on a “vulnerable baby lost forever to his family forever”.
The judge added: “When Kaleb was born he could have expected without realising it the loving parental care and nurture so vital to such helpless infants.
“The jury were satisfied that you inflicted blunt force trauma injuries to his head and body to sufficient seriousness fractures appeared on an x-ray.
“The physical assaults you carried out were the antithesis for the care Kaleb looked to you for and his life was tragically cut short.”
Kaleb’s mum, Kelly-Ann Cope, 31, told jurors in evidence Penn woke her up on the morning of his death asking her to phone 999.
Ms Cope said: “He said the wean wasn’t breathing. I was in bed and Kaleb was in his arms at the bedroom door.”
Prosecutor Erin Campbell asked how Kaleb was, and she replied: “I put my hand on his heart and it was still beating but I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t breathing.
“His eyes were rolling to the back of his head.”
Ms Cope said she could not watch as mercy crews tended to Kaleb and rushed him to hospital.
It was put to Ms Cope that she knew about Kaleb choking on prune juice as she said it during the 999 call.
Ms Cope was asked how she knew, and she replied: “Brian came in and I asked what happened and he said Kaleb choked on prune juice but I didn’t know more about it.”
She later added: “He said he patted his back and said he stiffened up, his body went flimsy then realised he wasn’t breathing.”
Ms Cope said she was beside Penn when he told medical staff that he dropped Kaleb on a changing mat weeks before.
It was also put to the mum that she told police in a statement that Kaleb had a bump on the back of his head.
Ms Cope said she had not known him to hit his head.
Ms Campbell asked: “Did you forget or deliberately not tell them?”
Ms Cope responded: “I did forget as my head was discombobulated as my thoughts were to see my son.”
Ms Cope denied causing Kaleb’s injuries, stating: “I wouldn’t harm anyone, I couldn’t kill a spider.”
Nurse Carol McNeill earlier told jurors that she spoke to Penn after Kaleb arrived at the hospital.
Mrs McNeill stated: “He said that he had been feeding the baby and there had been a choking episode.
“He (Kaleb) had vomited, but that it was not vomit.”
Consultant neuropathologist professor Colin Smith, 53, who examined Kaleb’s brain after his death, gave evidence at the trial.
He said: “[Kaleb’s injuries] are only seen in a setting of severe trauma, this is either a fall from a height or road traffic incident.”
Prof Smith also claimed there was evidence of previous bleeding to the brain dated seven to ten days before Kaleb’s death.
He was then asked: “We may hear evidence that three weeks before his death, he may have been dropped from about 12 inches to the ground.
“Was a fall like that likely to have caused the injuries to the brain?”
Prof Smith replied: “It is possible.”
Ms Campbell asked: “Would it be clear the level of brain injury you identified in this case would have led Kaleb to be unresponsive?”
Prof Smith replied: “That’s my opinion.”
Penn, represented by QC Brian McConnachie, did not give evidence during the trial, but had lodged an incrimination claiming Ms Cope was responsible.
Mr McConnachie told the court Penn made admissions to a social worker that he may have hit Kaleb’s head on a door in “a panic”.
The advocate added: “The injury Kaleb suffered would have to have been suffered before that for Mr Penn to have been in a panic at that stage.”
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