Baby Ciaran: Unthinkable tragedy that left community reeling

It was a tragedy which tore apart a family and left a community reeling – the death of two-week-old Ciaran Leigh Morris who died on Easter Sunday last year.

The incident on Brownhills High Street
The incident on Brownhills High Street

Heartbroken parents Camaron Morris and Codie Holyman had been walking their son in his new pram for the first time since getting him back from hospital on Brownhills High Street when the unthinkable happened.

James Paul Davis was at the wheel of a BMW travelling along the A452 towards Shire Oak which veered across the centre line and struck the offside front of a Ford B-Max. On Friday he was jailed for six-and-a-half years.

The court heard how the BMW saloon careered into a pram containing the 18-day-old baby and mounted the pavement. Ciaran suffered injuries to his head and body and died in hospital later that day. His mother Codie was flipped onto the bonnet and broke her collar bone, she was so traumatised about her son she did not realise the extent of her own injuries until later that night.

James Davis had 27 previous convictions including for drink driving

Despite a massive amount of evidence pointing to his guilt – including footage from a police bodycam of him saying “I’ve killed a baby, I’m going to prison” – Davis still pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court saw through his concocted excuses and found him guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and driving while uninsured, a charge he had previous convictions for.

Davis had been travelling at speeds of up to 67mph on a 30mph zone moments before the collision, with the car, according to defence barrister Mr Nicholas Syfret QC, likely to have been doing 29.4mph at the time of the collision, and had been slowing down.

No defects were identified on either vehicle which could have caused or contributed to the collision, and there was no evidence to suggest Davis had been distracted by any activity in the car.

James Davis is seen running away

The 34-year-old fled from the scene and ran away – with a passenger from the Ford B-Max pursuing him – and, once at a safe distance from the scene, had approached passerby Dean Athersmith and asked for use of his phone.

Mr Athersmith dialled the number and Davis told a woman he was “really sorry” that he had killed a baby. He later phoned police and the only explanation he gave was that he had a coughing fit and passed out, something which he maintained during the trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Body-cam footage from two policemen showed Davis in the aftermath of the tragedy and, once the defendant had been told he had killed 18-day-old Ciaran, his legs buckled and he burst into tears.

He could be heard saying on the footage: “I can’t believe it, I’ve killed a babby. I’ve killed a babby.” He also told officers: “If I killed someone, I will go, I will go to prison.”

Ciaran Leigh Morris

Davis, of Croxtalls Avenue in Bloxwich, hugged his girlfriend, apologising profusely, as he was taken away in a police car. Between the crash and him being apprehended, at least half an hour elapsed.

He answered 'no comment' to questions posed at the police station, passed breathalyser tests at the scene but failed an eye-to-nose co-ordination test at Oldbury Police Station. A blood test later revealed he had 1.7mg of THC – a cannabis derivative – in his system, just below the legal amount of 2mg.

Prosecution pathologist Ghada Elsadik-Ismail said it was “highly possible” – subject to different factors – for people who had THC in their system to have slower reactions.

Nurse Claire Morrisey, who carried out a four-part impairment test on Davis at the request of the police, said it resulted in three minor faults. Davis had suffered a single episode of “vigorous self-limiting coughing” which he did not require medical intervention for. The nurse said Davis said he had been “feeling generally unwell” for three days with a headache and cough and he had tested negative on a lateral flow test for coronavirus.

Two cardiologists, Dr Bhavesh Sachdev for the prosecution, and Dr Michael Norrell, for the defence, both said it was “unlikely” that the defendant could have fainted due to cough syncope – where someone can lose consciousness during coughing episodes.

Davis admitted to Wolverhampton Crown Court he was speeding, where he said he had “no explanation” but said the road was clear and there was no traffic.

He told the court that neither he nor his passenger were wearing seatbelts, they were not talking on the journey and that he was not lying about not using his mobile phone.

Davis’s defence QC, Mr Syfret, said it was “totally unfair” to suggest the defendant, a father himself, was not remorseful for his actions on a day which wrecked so many lives.

Blue ribbons took over town in wake of tragedy

Blue ribbons adorned the streets

Baby Ciaran’s death triggered an outpouring of grief in Brownhills, with flowers, teddy bears and toys left near the site.

Blue ribbons were also tied to roadside railings and even the town’s 40ft tall landmark miner statue was adorned with them.

The blue ribbons tribute was taken up by residents and traders and became a familiar sight around Brownhills in the wake of the tragedy.

In an emotional tribute at the time, Ciaran’s parents Camaron Morris and Codie Holyman said: “Mommy’s and Daddy’s hearts will always ache, we love you more than anything.

“We didn’t get to keep you for long but we are happy we had the chance to meet you, look after you and call you our son. Fly high angel.”

Both parents were 18 at the time of the tragedy and Ciaran was their first born.

The baby’s funeral took place on April 28 last year, with the cortege, led by a horse-drawn hearse, passing near to the scene of the crash as crowds of well-wishers gathered to pay their respects after the unthinkable tragedy.

Flowers and soft toys were displayed paying tribute to the infant, while a large number of motorcyclists rode alongside the funeral procession bearing blue ribbons.

Around £39,000 was raised for the family with 2,149 people making donations.

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