Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Man convicted of Brandon killing

Robert Cunningham
Robert Cunningham was found guilty of killing 23-month-old Brandon Muir

A man has been found guilty of killing his girlfriend's 23-month-old son.

Robert Cunningham, 23, had denied murdering Brandon Muir, who died in Dundee in March 2008 after suffering more than 40 injuries.

He was convicted of the lesser charge of culpable homicide by a majority verdict at the High Court in Glasgow. He will be sentenced later this month.

It has been announced that a review of child protection services in Dundee will be carried out following the case.

The Scottish Government has also announced plans to bring forward the publication of an inspection into the department, which began in February this year.

Healther Boyd
Heather Boyd was cleared of culpable homicide

Brandon Muir died at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee on 16 March 2008 after suffering what the jury was told would have been a painful death.

His injuries included broken ribs and a ruptured intestine.

During the trial, medical experts said the injuries had been caused by a "massive blow" to his stomach area.

He had been left in the care of Cunningham the day before he died while his mother Heather Boyd went to the supermarket.

Ms Boyd, 23, a heroin addict, said her son had been unwell when she returned.

John Muir, Brandon's father, talks about the death of his son

She was cleared last week of the charges against her, including her son's culpable homicide.

Pathologists who conducted a post-mortem examination on Brandon's body found cuts and bruises on his head, shoulder blades, abdomen, back, hands and abrasions on the inside of his eye.

Police reports said the injuries dated from the last three weeks of Brandon's life, the period after Cunningham had moved into the family home in Balunie Crescent.

Cunningham was convicted of culpable homicide after jurors took just one hour and 25 minutes to return their majority verdict.

No comfort

Judge John Morris deferred sentence until 31 March for background reports.

Charges that Cunningham repeatedly and wilfully ill-treated Brandon and another young boy were withdrawn by the Crown on Monday.

Brandon's father, John Muir, said the verdict had brought him no comfort.

He said: "Robert's been done with culpable homicide, which is five to ten years and if he gets five years, he'll be out in a year and a bit.

"Brandon's life was [worth] more than that."

The man who led the police inquiry into Brandon's death said the toddler may have still been alive if people had reported their concerns about him.

Brandon Muir
Brandon Muir died after his intestine ruptured

Tayside Police Ch Insp Willie Semple said people should have come forward irrespective of "how they feel about talking to the authorities".

He said: "When we carried out this inquiry we uncovered a lot of information from people.

"If they had shared that with social workers, potentially we would not have had a trial.

"It should not matter how insignificant they think it is or how they feel about talking to the authorities.

"I am not saying Brandon Muir would have been alive today, but he may have been."

The Scottish Government's HMIE report into children's services in Dundee, which began last month, will be published in June, three months ahead of its original September publication date.

The separate independent review into the department will be led by Peter Wilson, the former chief constable of Fife Constabulary.

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