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Factory worker who shook and beat girlfriend's baby to death because of his crying is jailed for seven-and-a-half yearsBaby Slater Sharkey suffered 25 bruises from his head to his toes when he died aged 13 monthsRichard Morgan, 33, harmed the baby over 18 hours prior to his death
Baby's mother Rachel Peacock handed 12-month community order
Morgan sentenced to 7 and a half years today
18:35 GMT, 19 December 2012
Jailed: Factory worker Richard Morgan who shook his girlfriend's poorly baby son to death
A 33-year-old man who beat and shook a poorly baby to death while the boy's mother went shopping was jailed for seven-and-a-half years today.
Slater Sharkey suffered 25 bruises from his head to his toes when he died aged 13 months in December 2010, a jury at Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Richard Morgan, of Tantobie, County Durham, harmed the baby over 18 hours prior to his death.
His partner, the child's mother, Rachel Peacock, 31, was convicted of cruelty to a child but cleared of causing or allowing her son's death.
Morgan was not the boy's father and was in sole charge of Slater when the fatal injury was inflicted, Mr Justice King told him as he passed sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.
He was convicted of manslaughter yesterday following a trial lasting over four weeks.
He said: 'Your killing of Slater was the result primarily of your forceful shaking of the child, in a momentary loss of control, at a time when you had become frustrated by his whingeing and crying due to him in all likelihood being separated from his mother.
'Whatever the circumstances leading you to becoming frustrated at the child's behaviour, nothing justifies Slater becoming treated in this way.'
Tragic baby Slater Sharkey, who died aged just 13 months, suffered 'catastrophic' head trauma and a number of bruises
The judge accepted Morgan did not intend to inflict serious harm when he shook the baby, and that he had been a good father to his own children.
Bruising inflicted prior to the boy's death could not be proved to have been caused by Morgan, the judge said, but there was 'clear evidence' of assaults over a 24-hour period leading up to it.
Slater's mother, Rachel Peacock, who had been living with Morgan for two months, was cleared by a jury of causing or allowing her son's death, but she was convicted of a cruelty charge.
That related to an incident a month before Slater's death when she did not take him to hospital in defiance of her GP's advice.
She was handed a 12-month community order by Mr Justice King, who said the single episode of neglect had not contributed to her son's death.
Morgan claimed he had left the baby momentarily in the living room and when he returned, he found the boy had collapsed.
Richard Morgan (left) beat and shook baby Slater Sharkey to death. His
partner, the child's mother, Rachel Peacock, (right) was convicted of
cruelty to a child but cleared of allowing or causing his death
Soon after Peacock
returned from the shops, he claimed, and they rushed his lifeless body
to Shotley Bridge Hospital, and he was then taken to the University
Hospital of North Durham, but attempts to save him failed.
court Detective Chief Inspector Steve Chapman said: 'This was all about
Richard Morgan taking responsibility for his actions.
'He has always said it was not him, and ultimately the jury found him guilty.
'For the family, this was all about getting a conviction.'
The pair are no longer together.
During the earlier trial, Andrew Robertson QC told jurors Slater died of 'catastrophic brain damage' at the hands of Morgan, who was looking after him while Peacock went to the local shops.
The court heard on the day of his death on December 11 2010 Slater had gone to the supermarket with his mother then returned home for tea.
Peacock realised she had forgotten something when they got back and popped out to her local shop, leaving Slater alone with Morgan.
While she was away Slater lost consciousness.
Morgan claimed he had left the child playing with his toys and he was lying face-down, passed out when he got back.
Slater's lifeless body was taken to hospital but he died hours later on December 11, 2010.
Mr Robertson said: 'Rachel Peacock left Slater playing with his toys. When she left, she left the child in Richard Morgan's sole custody.
'When she returned, Slater was unconscious. Richard Morgan was panicking but he hadn't telephoned an ambulance.
'Richard Morgan's account was he had simply gone to the toilet leaving Slater playing with his toys in the living room floor and when he returned, Slater was face-down on the floor not breathing.'
The child was found to have suffered multiple head wounds consistent with being beaten or struck against something, and had bruises on his legs which suggested he had been gripped tightly.
The pair were sentenced today at Newcastle Crown Court. The baby's mother received a community order
A pathologist discovered he also had 'extensive and severe' bleeding in his eyes and bleeding and swelling to the brain – a sign he was violently shaken.
Mr Robertson added: 'The fatal injury can only have occurred when the child was left alone with Richard Morgan.
'This wasn't a one-off assault.'
The 31-year-old mum was found guilty of cruelty after she fled a doctor's surgery a month before Slater's death in December 2010 when it was suggested the boy should be examined by a specialist.
The court heard she was covering up bruising on her boy during the shopping trip on the day he died, telling a friend she could not take him to the doctors for a cold because of the state of him.
The couple were living together in Tantobie, County Durham at the time of Slater's death.