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Parents convicted over baby's death locked up for combined 13 years

By Jamie Brassington | Burntwood | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

The parents of a two-month-old baby who died after being smothered have been jailed for a combined 13 years.

Tyler Morgan was two months old when he died

Tyler Morgan died after suffering broken ribs and being smothered at the family home in Burntwood in 2014.

His father Luke Morgan, aged 26, and mother Emma Cole, 22, were convicted of causing or allowing his death following a trial at Stafford Crown Court last month.

They were also found guilty of child cruelty but were cleared of his murder and manslaughter.

Luke Morgan and Emma Cole were sentenced at Stafford Crown Court

Today Morgan was sentenced to eight years in prison and Cole was sentenced to five years behind bars by Judge Michael Chambers QC in Stafford.

The parents cried in the dock as Mr Chambers went over evidence from the case, including that Morgan had bitten Tyler on the forearm.

'Tyler will always be in our hearts'

Tyler's grandparents today released a joint statement in which they said losing Tyler was "the worst day of our lives".

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"Not knowing how or why is the worst situation we could have been in," the statement added.

"To think it’s been five years since we lost this beautiful baby boy and it’s only now, we are getting answers. We miss you so much, Tyler and not a day goes by where we don’t think of you.

"We would like to thank Staffordshire Police for not giving up and making sure Tyler has had a voice.

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"Our family has been ripped apart during the last five years. We now have to find a way of carrying on now that this trial has finished.

"We thank all concerned in reaching a verdict. Special thanks to the liaison officer who has supported us all through this awful time.

"We now need time to rebuild and heal our lives as a family. Tyler will always be in our hearts."

Delay in calling for help

The court heard that Tyler suffered fractured ribs before he was smothered to death at their home on Sunnymead Road, Burntwood, on April 28, 2014.

Stafford Crown Court was told that the baby was put to bed crying at 7pm but that the parents did not call for medical help until dialling 999 at around 1.30am.

Mr Chambers told the parents: "I am satisfied that Tyler was subjected to deliberate harm.

"Tyler was put to bed at 7pm but the child continued to cry and scream."

Emma Cole and Luke Morgan arriving at court

Morgan and Cole then decided to drink a "significant amount of alcohol", the court heard, and neighbours reported hearing the couple arguing before Tyler was smothered.

"I'm satisfied that one of you deliberately smothered the child and the other was aware of the risk and failed to protect him," the judge told them.

"The crying and the screaming of the child and the arguments between the defendants is overheard.

"Evidently it lead them in frustration to smothering the child.

"Put simply one of you unlawfully killed him."

'Difficult and distressing'

He continued to say that Tyler was smothered in the face and had his chest compressed with such force that it caused marks on his face.

Mr Chambers said he was also satisfied from evidence that Morgan was responsible for the bite mark on Tyler's forearm and for putting lemon juice on his mouth.

More coverage of the trial:

Defending Morgan, Mark Heywood, said that Tyler's death was something Morgan will "have to live with for the rest of his life."

Kevin Hegarty, defending Cole, said that her "inmaturity and relationship with drink" led to her lack of actions to protect Tyler.

Detective Chief Inspector Victoria Downing, of Staffordshire Police, described the case as tragic and very distressing.

"Our first thoughts are with Tyler, who was barely two months old when he lost his life, and his extended family.," she said.

"This has been a difficult and distressing case to bring before the courts and we are grateful to those who have provided evidence to allow the jury to reach this decision."

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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