Paul Nicholson and Victoria Burke were each jailed for eight years at Newcastle Crown Court for causing or allowing the death of their baby Tequilah. The baby suffered from fatal head injuries but it could not be established who had caused the injuries. The prosecution case was that the fatal injury could not have been inflicted by anyone other than her parents. Both were therefore, found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child.

Causing or allowing death of a child

Under the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, section 5 – a person (D) is guilty of a criminal offence if a child or vulnerable adult(V) dies as a result of the unlawful act by someone in the same household as V, and if D is also a member of the same household and had frequent contact with V.  It must be proved that there was a significant risk of serious physical harm being caused to V by the unlawful act of such a person, and D either caused the death or D was or ought to have been aware of the risk and failed to take reasonable steps to protect V.

The maximum sentence which can be imposed is 14 years imprisonment and can only be tried in the Crown  Court.

So, a person is guilty of a serious criminal offence if they are in the same household as a child and they are shown to have failed to protect that child in circumstances where they should have been aware of the risk to the child.

A person aged under 16 will not be held responsible unless they are the mother or father of V.

A person is to be regarded as a “member” of a particular household, even if he does not live in that household, if he visits it so often and for such periods of time that it is reasonable to regard him as a member of it.

The law surrounding this offence is complex and involves many different legal issues. If you are charged or are under investigation for this offence, it is essential you seek immediate specialist legal advice. If the police want to speak to you about any “non-accidental injury” to a child, then speak to a specialist solicitor first. David Gray solicitors are available 24 hours a day for immediate advice. Call on 07764929497

David Gray criminal solicitors are top ranked in the North East and have many years of experience in defending the most serious and complex criminal matters. We understand the sensitive nature of allegations of child abuse and neglect. We work closely with our award winning family department regarding any social services involvement.

For further advice contact janice.hall@davidgray.co.uk or contact us on 01912329547.