Ricky Walker will be eligible for release on licence after three years behind bars, Birmingham Crown Court heard today.
The 27-year-old, of Kendrick Road, Bilston, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter yesterday after his baby son Kayden died from ‘catastrophic’ injuries, including bleeding to his brain.
On sentencing him, trial judge Mr Justice Morris said he had caused the death of a ‘baby boy’ and endured pain and suffering to his own family and to the family of Kayden's mother, Laura Davies.
Davies, aged 25, was convicted yesterday of allowing the infant's death. She has been released on bail to be sentenced on September 5.
Walker had previously told jurors he believed a folded-up hoodie he used to ‘prop-feed’ Kayden may have suffocated him.
A month-long trial heard allegations that Kayden was subjected to cruelty which led to an earlier head injury, several weeks before his death on June 12, 2016.
The infant went into cardiac arrest at his home in Walnut Close, Bilston, and was pronounced dead in hospital about an hour after Walker dialled 999.
Addressing the judge ahead of sentencing, defence barrister Rachel Brand QC, said: “He was normally a gentle and passive man. His previous good character, all we have heard about him during the weeks of this trial.
"All with this as an isolated incident, loss of normal composure by a father who 99.9 per cent was loving and caring.
"It puts this offence and this man’s momentarily loss of normal composure into proper context and one can only imagine he was tired and under pressure."
'Smiley happy baby boy'
Walker was sentenced to six years in prison. He will serve half of his sentence in custody, before being eligible for release and serving the rest of his sentence on licence.
Passing sentence, Judge Justice Morris said: “The death of a child is always distressing and shocking. The thoughts of a life not lived stay with us all. However words cannot adequately express the tragedy of the death of an innocent very young child at the hands of a parent in whose care the child has been placed.
"As can be seen from the video footage taken by Laura Davies, Kayden was a smiley happy baby boy.
"His two grandmothers and the wider family clearly miss Kayden greatly and, as evident throughout the trial, two years on they continue to grieve for their loss – as indeed do Ricky Walker and Laura Davies.
"What exactly happened in the meantime between 11.15am and 1.50pm may never be known.
"At some point in that period, most probably close to the time of the 999 call at 1.52pm, Ricky Walker shook Kayden on one or more occasions with considerable force and caused Kayden's head to collide with a hard or semi hard surface.
"That resulted in substantial deep bruise to his scalp subsequently discovered by doctors. The shaking caused the injuries in the brain and spine. The injuries caused Kayden to stop breathing and ultimately led to his death.
Father's account not true
"Ricky Walker accepts that he did shake Kayden, but only in an effort to revive his son, who, he claimed, had unaccountably gone floppy due to a blanket covering his face.
"That account was not true. What happened was Ricky Walker, left alone in the flat with a teething, niggly, infant had momentarily lost his temper and forcibly shaken Kayden.
"In the present case, as to your culpability in relation to the death of Kayden, you did not intend to cause his death or serious harm to him.
"You shook him in temper and in doing so intended to cause him some harm, but you did not intend the terrible consequences of your actions. The harm caused by your actions could hardly be more serious.
"You are a man of good character with no record of previous offending.
"As we have seen from the video footage, you were an otherwise loving father who had assumed much of the burden of responsibility of childcare.
"Kayden's death resulted from a momentary loss of temper and control, against a background of tiredness and stress in looking after the children.
"Finally, not only do you grieve the loss of your son, but you have to live with the fact that you caused the death of your own child.”
Walsall Council is now launching a serious case review into Kayden's death.
Kayden had suffered head trauma before
Baby Kayden had suffered similar trauma to his head several weeks before his tragic death, the jury at Birmingham Crown Court was told.
A bruise was found on his back which was said to have been caused by ‘forceful clasping of hands’ around his chest.
But the youngster’s mother Laura Davies said her partner, the accused Ricky Walker, was a ‘loving father’ who would never harm their son.
A medical expert at the trial had previously said the baby’s death could not have been an accident, disputing Walker’s claims that another toddler fell on top of six-month-old Kayden while he was in his baby bouncer at home.
Dr Daniel Du Plessis said this explanation was ‘not plausible’ as the injuries could only have been caused by ‘excessive jolting backwards and forwards’.
The youngster suffered brain, eye and spinal injuries, as well as irreversible brain damage, when he died in June 2016.
Dr Mohammad Sawal, a consultant paediatrician specialising in child protection cases, said severe bleeding found behind Kayden’s eyes suggested either an impact to the head or forceful shaking.
Walker had previously joked in Davies’ presence about how long it would take his son to suffocate with a blanket covering his face.
The trial heard a senior health visitor who had visited the the family’s council flat in Walnut Close describe Walker as a ‘caring, loving’ parent.
Kalvinder Rangi, manager of Darlaston Health Centre, told a jury that the baby’s mother was the ‘dominant partner’ while 27-year-old Ricky Walker seemed to do all the housework and child care.
She also said she had no concerns about the hygiene at the property.
Kayden collapsed less than an hour after the child’s mother had left the flat to visit a relative. She had left Walker to clean and tidy up, feed and look after a ‘grisly’ Kayden and prepare a meal for guests later that day.
The father dialled 999 but medics at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital pronounced Kayden dead shortly afterwards.
Walker claimed the baby must have slipped under the hoodie whilst sleeping. He spotted Kayden was unresponsive as he rolled a cigarette on the patio, shaking him ‘in an attempt to rouse him’, he said.
But his story was rejected by the jury of six men and six women after hearing from a succession of medical experts who all ruled out suffocation.
Both defendants had been using cannabis at the flat, described as cluttered, with ashtrays containing cigarette ends, and little food in the fridge.