Dad guilty of murdering nine-week-old baby after 'getting angry at his crying'

A dad who bashed his baby’s head leaving him with brain injuries after he was fed up with his crying, has been found guilty of murder.

Leon Mathias, 34, was told to expect an ‘inevitable’ jail sentence for killing his nine-week-old boy Hunter, which prosecutors say happened when he became angry with his crying.

During a four-month trial, Mathias of Stonebridge Lane, Great Houghton, was denied murdering his son, telling jurors he had tried to save Hunter’s life after he had suddenly stopped breathing during a bath.

He said he got into the tub with his son on the evening of November 30, 2018, while his partner Becky Higginbottom was downstairs.

He was previously cleared of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

However, Robert Smith KC, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court that Mathias had murdered his son, possibly after he had lost his temper with the baby’s bawling.

A post-mortem examination revealed bruising to Hunter’s scalp, which was consistent with an impact injury to the head.

And scans also showed three lower limb fractures. One was believed to have happened around the time of the head injury, with the other two occurring days earlier.

Mr Smith went on to claim that experts believe these injuries were closely associated with the shaking of a child, the twisting of limbs or swinging a child by the legs.

The nine-week-old was taken to Barnsley District General Hospital where hospital staff fought to resuscitate him on November 30, 2018.

However, his brain injury was so severe, and his brain had swollen so significantly, they were unable to save him, and he later died on December 3, 2018.

Mrs Justice Lambert, remanded Mathias, from Barnsley, South Yorks., in custody until Thursday (February 2), when he will be sentenced following the 10-2 majority verdict.

She told him: ‘Mr Mathias, you have been found guilty of murder.

‘A custodial sentence is inevitable, as I’m sure you know. For that reason, you are remanded into custody. You will be produced for the sentencing.’

Jurors returned a not guilty verdict on the second charge faced by Mathias, of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Speaking after today’s verdict, Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Mark Oughton said: ‘This has been a protracted and complex investigation and trial, and I welcome the decision reached by the jury today.

‘Mathias was first arrested by detectives on 5 December 2018 before being bailed and rearrested on Thursday 17 October 2019. He was later charged with Hunter’s murder and Section 18 assault on 1 February 2021.

‘He provided ‘no comment’ in interview.

‘We will never know exactly what happened during Hunter’s bath time on 30 November 2018; what we do know is that he suffered catastrophic injuries at the hands of his father. I am pleased justice has been served today.’

He will be sentenced on February 2.

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