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Jury retires in trial of teenager accused of shaking partner’s baby to death

Carl Alesbrook, now aged 19, denies murder and causing grievous bodily harm relating to alleged attacks on four-month-old Elijah Shemwell.

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Derby Crown Court

The jury in the case of a teenager accused of shaking his partner’s baby to death has retired to consider its verdicts.

Carl Alesbrook, now aged 19, is alleged to have killed four-month-old Elijah Shemwell around seven weeks after meeting the child’s mother, India Shemwell, in November 2021.

During the trial at Derby Crown Court, the jury was told Alesbrook would look after Elijah at Shemwell’s home in Acorn Drive, Belper, Derbyshire, while she was out or at work.

Elijah Shemwell
Elijah Shemwell died aged four months in January 2022 (Derbyshire Police/PA)

Prosecutor Vanessa Marshall KC said medical evidence showed Elijah suffered brain damage or subdural bleeding from shaking on at least three separate occasions, including New Year’s Day and January 2 2022, as well as 17 bruises around his chest, back and stomach caused by “inflicted injury” consistent with being gripped by an adult.

Alesbrook, of Upper Greenhill Gardens, Matlock, denies murder and causing grievous bodily harm relating to alleged attacks on Elijah between November 18 2021 and January 2 2022, three days before his death at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.

The trial heard that days before Elijah was rushed to hospital on January 2, Alesbrook, who was 16 at the time, sent a Snapchat message to Shemwell, calling the baby a “c***”.

Shemwell, now 23, messaged him saying she would buy some baby formula, to which Alesbrook replied: “He is being a c***, he keeps spitting it out. He doesn’t need changing either, I checked 10 minutes ago.”

When asked by defence barrister Mark Heywood KC whether he was ever “unduly angered or irritated” by Elijah, Alesbrook responded “no”, saying that he would never shake a baby because he “knew what was right and what was wrong”.

Opening the case on June 5, Ms Marshall told the jury: “Between the months of mid-November 2021 and early January 2022, Elijah Shemwell, only four-months-old, was left by his mother India Shemwell in this defendant Carl Alesbrook’s care.

“And rather than protect him, it is the prosecution’s case that instead, this defendant shook Elijah on at least two occasions, resulting in symptoms of brain damage or dysfunction and subdural bleeding, prior to a final shake on January 2, which caused catastrophic head injuries and his premature death a few days later.

“You will also hear members of the jury that in addition to the head trauma, this defendant caused rib and limb fractures to Elijah’s body, one to two days before his admission to hospital on January 2.”

Ms Marshall told jurors Shemwell had separated from Elijah’s father but “remained emotionally and sexually involved” with him, which may have caused Alesbrook “some understandable frustration at the uncertainty of the status of his relationship” with her.

The prosecution alleged that a toothache suffered by Alesbrook at the time may also have caused him to lose his temper with Elijah.

Alesbrook denied that his tooth pain caused him to lash out at the baby and denied feeling jealous towards Shemwell’s ex-partner.

The jury was instructed to retire to consider its verdicts in the case by Mr Justice Jeremy Baker on Tuesday afternoon.

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