Killer of six-week-old baby jailed for 9 years

JAILED: Baby-killer Michael John Pearce

JAILED: Baby-killer Michael John Pearce

First published in Campaign news

A MAN who killed his girlfriend's six-week-old baby after hitting him with a shoe and a plastic bottle has been jailed for nine years.

Michael John Pearce was looking after Alfie Sullock while the child's mother, Donna, went on her first night out after giving birth.

The magistrate's son, of Nelson, Caerphilly, South Wales, had texted his girlfriend while she was out, insisting her son was fine and that he could be trusted.

Alfie died four days after being admitted to hospital with a severe bleed to the brain as well as bruising to his face and abdomen.

A jury cleared Pearce of murder but convicted him of manslaughter.

Pearce had denied all wrongdoing all throughout his three-week trial at Newport Crown Court.

However, when it came to sentencing, his defence team told a packed courtroom that Pearce had a "momentary loss of control".

Judge Mr Justice Baker asked whether jealousy had played a part.

He told Pearce: "Alfie died as a result of you having inflicted upon him multiple blunt force injuries.

"It may well be that, due to your denials... whether you were motivated by jealousy as a result of Donna's refusal to have your child earlier that evening."

And disputing Pearce's mitigation, the judge added: "This was not a momentary loss of control by a sleep-deprived parent. Alfie was only in your care for a short time."

On August 16 last year, Pearce suggested Ms Sullock had a night out so she could get to know more people in his area.

Former holiday rep Ms Sullock, who lived in Cardiff, had met Pearce while six months pregnant and had started to spend most weekends at her boyfriend's house.

Prior to her girls' night out, the 29-year-old went to a local pub with Pearce - where he drank four pints of beer within an hour. Pearce asked Ms Sullock to have a child with him - but she said no.

During the course of Pearce's trial, the Crown said the defendant showed "obsessive" behaviour towards Ms Sullock - and had showered her with gifts just a few weeks into their relationship.

Ms Sullock said that, when she left the house for her night out, Alfie was "happy and healthy" and did not have as much as scratch on him.

While babysitting Alfie, Pearce sent Ms Sullock a text saying "You can trust me you know".

But at 9.11pm he dialled 999, after claiming he had gone to the toilet and returned to see Alfie had stopped breathing.

When paramedics arrived moments later, they found the baby lifeless and blue.

Prosecutor Michael Mather-Lees had said in his opening address: "Children do not go cold instantly."

Pearce insisted he had "no idea" what had happened to his girlfriend's little boy - and at one tried to point the finger of blame at her as well as the paramedics who tried to save the child's life.

But the divorcee, who appeared emotionless when the guilty verdict was passed yesterday, was less than defiant about his innocence today.

Defending QC Alexander Greenwood made submissions on behalf of Pearce - saying the injuries Alfie sustained were "unintentional and unintended".

Mr Greenwood said: "The force used, it must be remembered, did not inflict fractures, but bruises alone.

"Bruising was not capable of causing what appears to have been a chain reaction with the ultimate tragic consequences.

"This was a momentary loss of self-control on the part of a man of previous impeccable character."

But Judge Baker was less than convinced of the latter in his sentencing remarks.

He said that, while the exact cause of Alfie's injuries would "probably remain unknown", it was likely they had been caused by up to "10 blows" from at least one object.

"The evidence is that Alfie had been in your sole care for a relatively brief period of time prior to the injuries inflicted upon him," he told Pearce.

"Furthermore, after you assaulted Alfie you phoned the emergency services, albeit you failed to tell them what had caused his injuries, and only phoned the emergency services after Alfie had gone cold."

As the nine-year sentence was handed down, a cry of "Disgraceful" was heard from the public gallery.

A visibly upset Ms Sullock did not want to speak following the conclusion of the case.

She attended every single day of the trial - even listening to the seven-minute 999 call and details of her son's post-mortem examination.

Yesterday, she said she had been through "a year of absolute hell".

She told reporters: "Whatever sentence he will get, it will never be long enough for taking Alfie's life away."

Pearce could be released from prison on licence after serving half of his sentence.

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