A FACTORY worker from County Durham who shook his girlfriend’s poorly baby son to death while she went shopping has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years.
Described as a man of former good character and a “loving father” to his own children, Richard Morgan, 33, has been jailed for the manslaughter of 13-month-old Slater Sharkey in December 2010.
The former naval recruit had only been living with Slater’s mother Rachel Peacock for two months before fatally losing control of his temper.
Throughout the court case at Newcastle Crown Court, Morgan continually maintained he hadn’t killed the youngster, claiming he’d 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.
Mr Justice King told a hearing yesterday: “The main head injury was caused by a momentary loss of control by a stressed carer.
“Your infliction of fatal violence on Slater was the final incident in a period of episodes of abuse at your hands over the 24 hours while he was in your care.”
Peacock had left Slater – who was conceived after IVF treatment with former partner Carl Sharkey – with Morgan when she went to the shops in December 2010.
Returning home minutes later, she found Morgan stood on the doorstep holding her lifeless baby in his arms.
Factory worker Morgan hadn’t 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 added: “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 lose 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 alter 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, had earlier been acquitted of allowing the death of her son.
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 for advice.
Deemed an “isolated incident of short-term neglect” she was sentenced to a 12-month community order with supervision.