Cannabis-smoking father ‘violently shook his newborn baby to death’

Father, 26, ‘shook his newborn to death with the force of a car crash then told 999 operator the baby had gone ”limp and weird”’, murder trial hears

  • Oliver Mailey violently shook his newborn baby Abel-Jax to death 
  • He originally claimed he found the infant limp and lifeless in his cot 
  • But he later admitted killing him and pleading guilty to manslaughter 
  • Mailey denies murder and his trial at Preston Crown Court continues 

A cannabis-smoking father killed his newborn baby by violently shaking him with force similar to a car crash or a plunge from a tall building, his murder trial has heard.

Oliver Mailey originally claimed he found seven-week-old Abel-Jax Mailey limp and lifeless in his cot at home in Burnley, Lancashire, before admitting he had shaken the infant and pleading guilty to manslaughter. 

A post-mortem found that Abel-Jax suffered a catalogue of traumatic injuries, including catastrophic brain damage and severe bleeding and tearing injuries in his eyes, Preston Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Timothy Cray KC said the damage to the baby’s brain meant he would have stopped breathing and been deprived of oxygen to his brain.

Addressing the jury, Mr Cray said Mailey was in sole charge of the baby at the home on November 28, 2021. Within an hour of Abel-Jax’s mother, Mollie Gorton, leaving for work at 11.15am, the baby had suffered serious injuries and needed to be taken to hospital by ambulance.

Oliver Mailey originally claimed he found seven-week-old Abel-Jax Mailey (pictured) limp and lifeless in his cot at home in Burnley, Lancashire, before admitting he had shaken the infant and pleading guilty to manslaughter

Oliver Mailey originally claimed he found seven-week-old Abel-Jax Mailey (pictured) limp and lifeless in his cot at home in Burnley, Lancashire, before admitting he had shaken the infant and pleading guilty to manslaughter

Mailey first claimed that the baby went limp while he was feeding his bottle. On a 999 call, he said he had no idea what happened but that ‘he’s gone right limp, he’s gone weird’.

Mr Cray said: ‘The defendant’s initial story was that he had found Abel in his crib and that Abel appeared limp and lifeless. The key thing he was saying then was that he didn’t know what had happened to Abel.

‘I’m afraid what you will hear is that those statements were lies. After speaking to others, he called an ambulance at 12:06pm. Abel died on the evening of Tuesday, November 30 after life support was withdrawn.’

The damage to the baby’s brain meant he would have stopped breathing and been deprived of oxygen to his brain, 

Mr Cray said that doctors agreed the injuries were consistent with ‘forceful and deliberate shaking’. These, the prosecutor said, led to Abel-Jax’s death.

The prosecutor said: ‘After death, evidence was also found of old, healing incidents to Abel’s brain which suggested there was also previous shaking. The earlier brain injuries go hand in hand with the examination of Abel’s ribs because the experts there found evidence of healing fractures from between four and 10 days of his death.’

Mailey, who sat in the dock wearing a black Nike T-shirt and blue jeans sporting a beard and top knot, denies murder

Mailey, who sat in the dock wearing a black Nike T-shirt and blue jeans sporting a beard and top knot, denies murder

Mr Cray explained that these injuries are not caused accidentally and said could only otherwise happen in a situation such as a ‘car accident or fall from a multi-storey building’.

He continued: ‘In the run up to this trial, the defendant has pleaded guilty to manslaughter. This defendant does not dispute that he shook Abel on the Sunday morning, that the shaking caused Abel’s death, and that his acts were unlawful.

‘The big factual issue that leaves for you is what he intended when he picked up Abel and shook him, in particular, did he intend to cause Abel really serious bodily harm? The defendant says that is not what he intended, and so he denies murder.’

 Mr Cray said Mailey repeatedly challenged Miss Gorton on whether the baby was actually his because he knew he had a low sperm count. 

Tensions between the couple were bad enough for him to move out for a few months before the baby was born. They eventually reconciled but problems remained, the court heard.

Mr Cray told the jury: ‘Another issue was that there was little money in the house but both parents were regular users of cannabis. Mollie says she was trying to cut down her use but that the defendant was unable to do the same.

‘The phone records show that he was arranging to buy cannabis on the Sunday morning that Abel was killed’

Although Miss Gorton said she felt their relationship went downhill after Abel-Jax was born, she did not think there was an issue with his childcare ability and believed that he loved the baby and was willing to do his share of the parenting.

The prosecution explained that there were no signs of neglect in the house, which was clean and with family photographs on display, and it appeared that Abel was a very loved, well cared for child.

There was no way of expecting something so horrific could happen when Miss Gorton left for work, Mr Cray said, but ‘given what was found out after Abel’s death, Mollie was mistaken about the defendant’s true feelings for Abel’.

During a routine visit, a health visitor identified no cause for concern but specifically explained the dangers of shaking a baby.

During Abel-Jax’s short life, concerns were noted by Miss Gorton’s godmother, Charlene Hay, who called at the house when Mailey was looking after the baby alone.

She noticed Abel-Jax screaming with particular distress and was concerned about what appeared to be a fresh bruise developing on his ear. She considered what she noticed such an issue that she told Ms Gorton and made a note on her calendar, the court heard.

Mailey was questioned by Miss Gorton over whether he had shaken the baby after he was rushed to hospital but repeatedly denied it.

Once medical examinations were completed, he was eventually arrested in July last year but gave no comment in interview.

Mailey, who sat in the dock wearing a black Nike T-shirt and blue jeans sporting a beard and top knot, denies murder.

The trial continues.

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