Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 12:31 UK

Toddler's killer given 10 years

Robert Cunningham
Robert Cunningham hit Brandon Muir so hard that his intestine ruptured

A man who killed his girlfriend's 23-month-old son in Dundee has been jailed for 10 years.

Robert Cunningham, 23, was found guilty of the culpable homicide of toddler Brandon Muir after a High Court trial.

Brandon was pronounced dead at Ninewells Hospital on 16 March 2008 after being hit so hard that his intestine ruptured.

Examinations of his body uncovered at least 40 injuries, including cracked ribs and cuts.

Police reports said the injuries happened in the last three weeks of Brandon's life - while Cunningham was living with Brandon and the toddler's mother, Heather Boyd, in Balunie Crescent.

Cunningham, a drug addict, was originally charged with the boy's murder but was convicted of the lesser charge of culpable homicide at the High Court in Glasgow.


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Ms Boyd, 23, had been charged with the culpable homicide of her son by failing to get him medical help after he was attacked by Cunningham.

She was cleared of the charges against her.

She had blamed Brandon's sickness on a 24-hour bug and went out to work as a prostitute to earn money for heroin while her son was dying.

Sentencing Cunningham, Judge John Morris said: "The jury did convict you of killing that unfortunate little boy.

"Your assault upon him was sufficient to rupture his internal organs and must have caused him considerable pain.

"Such an act of wanton violence against an innocent child, aggravated as it was by your failure to obtain medical assistance for him knowing what you had done must be marked with a substantial prison sentence."

Judge Morris also referred the case to Scottish Ministers under the Protection of Young Child Act.

Brandon Muir
Brandon had suffered at least 40 injuries

Responding to the sentence outside court, Brandon's grandmother Veronica Boyd said: "It's not enough. He has stolen and taken our grandson from us.

"He has caused total devastation to both sides of Brandon Muir's family."

An independent review of child protection services in Dundee is under way, led by former Fife Constabulary Chief Constable Peter Wilson.

He said: "I believe that significant progress is being made in speaking to those involved in the case, and gathering information about what happened.

"Thus far the work has included speaking to family members, the staff involved, and the management of the various services.

"More interviews are scheduled, and others still to be organised."

The Scottish Government has also asked Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) to bring forward the publication of a separate inspection report into child protection services in the city.

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