Man found guilty of killing six-week-old baby

KILLER: Michael John Pearce was found guilty of killing six-week-old Alfie Rhys Sullock

DIED: Alfie Rhys Sullock

Alfie Rhys Sullock with his mother Donna

First published in News
Last updated

A GRIEVING mother broke down in a flood of tears as a jury convicted her former boyfriend of killing her six-week-old son.

Michael John Pearce was home alone babysitting Alfie Rhys Sullock last year when paramedics were called to his address in Nelson.

He was looking after Alfie for the child's mother Donna Sullock, who went for her first night out since giving birth.

A trial at Newport Crown Court heard it was also the first time divorcee Pearce had been left alone with the baby.

Alfie died after suffering head and abdominal injuries.

Motorcycle mechanic Pearce was today cleared by a jury of Alfie's murder, but convicted of manslaughter.

During the trial, the defendant's counsel had queried whether Ms Sullock may have accidentally hurt her son while getting ready and whether Alfie's bruising was caused by medics trying to revive him. Those two claims were both disputed in court by Alfie's mother and paramedics.

Pearce, who had drunk five pints of beer that evening, said he had "no idea" how Alfie was injured. He said he raised the alarm after returning from the toilet and noticing Alfie had stopped breathing.

As the jury delivered its majority verdict, Ms Sullock broke down in tears.

The former holiday rep, who had clutched her son's teddy while attending every single day of her former boyfriend's trial, later said: "We are disappointed at today's verdict but satisfied he will still go to prison for what he has done.

"Whatever sentence he gets will never be long enough for taking Alfie's life away."

A healthy and happy Alfie was born at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), Cardiff, on July 6, 2013, following an uneventful pregnancy.

Ms Sullock, who lived in Fairwater, Cardiff, discovered she was expecting while working abroad in Crete.

She returned home to the UK, and six months into her pregnancy she became friends with Pearce following a chance meeting in Fairwater.

The pair later became an item, although prosecutors said Pearce began to display "obsessive behaviour" towards her and even asked her to give him a child just weeks into their relationship.

On August 16, Ms Sullock travelled from her home in Cardiff to Pearce's home in Nelson to stay over the weekend.

However, magistrate's son Pearce suggested she go out with his friend's girlfriend for a "girly night out".

Before then though, Pearce went out to a nearby pub and drank four pints of beer in 45 minutes.

He returned home and looked after Alfie while Ms Sullock got ready.

The baby's mother said her son was healthy and breathing normally before she left.

Less than half an hour into her night, a worried Ms Sullock asked if her son was doing okay.

The defendant sent a text saying: "you can trust me".

In the half an hour that followed, at 9.11pm an ambulance was called.

The seven-minute call was later played to the jury in full.

When asked by the operator did he see what happened, the defendant replied he had simply given the baby a bottle and then the child had stopped breathing.

Earlier during the case, prosecutor Michael Mather-Lees said: "Children do not go cold instantly."

Alfie was first taken to the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil before being transferred to UHW.

On August 20, life support was withdrawn and Alfie died, the court heard.

A Home Office pathologist later gave a provisional cause of death as "blunt trauma head injury".

Following the completion of the case, Ms Sullock wished to thank family, friends as well as total strangers for their "amazing support" during her "year of hell".

Pearce will be sentenced at Newport Crown Court tomorrow.

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