A 22-year-old man from Coventry, England, has been handed a 19-year prison term after abusing a 6-month-old baby over several months, resulting in the baby suffering 32 broken bones.
James Laidlaw was sentenced for causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and the child’s mother, Tiffany Hilton, 27, was sentenced to three years behind bars for failing to stop the violence, the Coventry Observer reported on Dec. 1.
“The breaks to the bones were caused by Mr. Laidlaw, but it was miss Hilton who brought Mr. Laidlaw into the house and left him in charge of her son when she must have known he was at risk.” Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said during sentencing, according to the Observer.
The child’s injuries were discovered on May 17, 2014, after Hilton took him to hospital for suspected bronchitis.
Bertodano described Laidlaw as “prone to controlling and bullying behavior.”
Although guidelines stipulated Laidlaw could be given a maximum punishment of 16 years for his crime, the judge said the case was exceptional and merited a longer sentence.
During the trial, prosecutor Andrew Wallace said that the couple lived together between February and May 2014.
“It’s a campaign of violence to this child, so the longer it goes on, the more the neglect," Wallace added, according to an earlier article from the Observer. "Even on an adult that number of injuries you would have regarded as pretty serious."
Along with the three year sentence, Hilton is barred from seeing her three children until they are adults.
“Even when you must have realized he was physically harming not only you but one of them, you allowed him to stay and covered up for him by not telling social services of his presence,” Bertodano told Hilton during sentencing.
“A message has to go out that women who look after children are responsible, and if they remain passive in the face of such violent and persistent abuse of their children, they must go to prison,” Bertodano added.
Simon Hunka, Hilton’s defense attorney, said in court that his client was an “extremely vulnerable individual."
"She has low self-esteem and attracts men of violence, and is attracted to them," he said.
He added that hostility towards Hilton in the community was so great that she could no longer live in Coventry.