Mother sentenced for killing baby son at Deanshanger home

Eloise Burton-Cope was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court
Eloise Burton-Cope was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court

A mother who shook her baby son to death while she was mentally ill has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Eloise Burton-Cope, 33, shook four-month-old Leon at their Glebe Road home and he died from a fractured skull and brain damage two days later.

Burton-Cope admitted the manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years.

She was also ordered by Justice Haddon-Cave to attend clinical appointments as recommended by her medical advisors.

The court heard how Leon was ‘cold and unresponsive’ when he was admitted to Milton Keynes Hospital on March 29, 2014.

Later that day, he was transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where doctors concluded he had suffered ‘a shaking mechanism with impact’.

On Mothers’ Day, Leon’s life support machine was switched off.

According to the pathologist, the force used was ‘at least outside the range of normal force used in the handling of a child’.

Prosecutor Sally Howes told the court that an aggravating factor in the case was that Burton-Cope had offered no explanation as to the injuries or that she had shaken him, until she was arrested by the police.

Burton-Cope, who now lives in Walton End, Milton Keynes, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of lack of intent.

She had suffered from severe post-natal depression following the birth of Leon.

Defence barrister, Jane Humphries, told the court that according to psychiatric reports, Burton-Cope was ‘a vulnerable person’.

She had suffered a psychotic episode immediately following the birth of Leon and had taken anti-depressants.

Sentencing Burton-Cope, Justice Haddon-Cave, said: “This is an exceptionally sad and tragic case. You shook him and caused him serious injuries as a result of which he subsequently died.”

“I am satisfied that your residual culpability in this case is very low. I am satisfied that there would be no public interest in imposing a custodial sentence and could result in a deterioration in your mental condition.

“In my judgement this is a paradigm case of leniency.”

Detective Inspector Mark Brayfield, who led the investigation, said: “We accept the decision of the court.

“This investigation was about getting justice for baby Leon, whose life was tragically and senselessly taken away.

“Every child should be protected, especially in their own homes. This was not the case for Leon.

“I would like to thank the investigation team, many of whom have children of their own.

“This has proven to be a difficult and complex investigation for them.”