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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 13:35 GMT
Father jailed over baby's death
A man from Shropshire has been jailed for four years for the manslaughter of his two-month-old son.

Robert Ward, 46, from Lancaster Avenue, Dawley, Telford was sentenced after his son Nathan died on 31 December 2002.

Birmingham Crown Court heard Ward had shaken Nathan so hard he suffered severe brain damage and died a few days later at the Princess Royal Hospital.

Nathan's mother Mary Ann Ward was found guilty of cruelty by wilful neglect and will be sentenced next year.

'Sheer frustration'

During the trial the court was told Ward had shaken his son violently on the night of 22 December 2002.

The court heard he had lost his temper and shaken Nathan out of "sheer frustration." This led to the baby, born three weeks premature, not being able to breathe and caused severe brain damage.

It was said that Robert Ward had invented his story about what happened.
We do feel that in this case the appropriate experts were used and appropriate evidence was considered by the jury
Det Insp Andy Parsons

He told the jury that the baby had stopped breathing and he had shaken him gently to start him breathing again.

In his defence it was argued there were other theories as to how Nathan had stopped breathing and that the death of babies is unknown science.

He was cleared of a second charge of cruelty.

His wife Mary Ann Ward, aged 28, was accused of withholding the truth to protect her husband rather than look after her baby.

Her sentencing has been adjourned for pre-sentence reports until the New Year.

Detective Inspector Andy Parsons, who led the inquiry, said it had been a difficult investigation.

"It has been an emotive case," he said. "Any incident involving the death of a child within a family environment is traumatic for everyone involved.

"But I am satisfied with the verdict."


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