THE final chapter has been closed in the tragic death of 13-month-old Slater Sharkey.
Richard Morgan, 33, was jailed for the manslaughter of the toddler last month and told he must serve seven-and-a-half years.
The former naval recruit had only been living with Slater’s mother Rachel Peacock for two months before fatally losing control of his temper at his home in Tantobie, Stanley, County Durham, in December 2010.
Yesterday, Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle wrote a death certificate for the youngster and concluded proceedings.
He made no recommendations following the tragedy and neither did he record a formal verdict into the death of Slater.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said it was “standard procedure” for a coroner not to return a verdict when a Crown Court had already found an individual guilty of causing a person’s death. It brings to an end two years of efforts to finally get justice for Slater.
Throughout the court case at Newcastle Crown Court last year, Morgan continually maintained he had not killed the youngster, claiming he had returned from the toilet to find him lifeless.
But during the five-week trial, it emerged Slater had bruises on his body caused 18 hours before his death.
A post-mortem revealed the fatal injury was caused by Slater’s head being violently struck against something.
Peacock had left Slater – who was conceived after IVF treatment with her former partner Carl Sharkey – with Morgan when she went to the shops.
Returning home minutes later, she found Morgan stood on the doorstep holding her lifeless baby in his arms.
Factory worker Morgan had not been to work on the Thursday as he was feeling unwell. On the Friday morning Slater was collected from his father’s house in Stanley, County Durham. The following day he was killed by Morgan in his home.
While it was accepted Morgan hadn’t intended to kill Slater, Mr Justice King said at his sentencing: “Slater had not been well during this time, he had a cold and was restless, grisly at night.
“Your killing of Slater was the result of your forceful shaking of the child in a momentary loss of control at a time when you were frustrated by his whingeing and crying, due to in all likelihood him being separated from his mother and having a cold, and at a time when you were wanting to rest before going to work.
“Whatever circumstances led to it, nothing justifies him being treated in this way.”
The court heard that Morgan had previously been a man of good character and a loving father to his own children.
Peacock, of Tantobie, County Durham, was acquitted of allowing the death of her son. But she was found guilty of child neglect relating to November 9, 2010 – Slater’s first birthday – when she failed to take her son to hospital after being advised to following a visit to a GP surgery. Deemed an “isolated incident of short-term neglect”, she was sentenced to a 12-month community order with supervision.