Father found guilty of murdering month-old son who suffered ‘snapped’ neck

A father has been convicted of murdering his five-week-old baby, who died from a broken neck, having also suffered 23 broken ribs.

A jury at Leicester Crown Court was told Ollie Davis was pronounced dead after being found lifeless in his bedroom in 2017, having sustained fractures to his skull, collar bone, both arms and the joints of all his limbs.

Michael Davis, 29, was found guilty on Friday of murder and two counts of causing grievous bodily harm and was remanded in custody facing a mandatory life sentence.

Kayleigh Driver court case
Kayleigh Driver and Michael Davis arriving at Leicester Crown Court (Matthew Cooper/PA)

Trial judge Mr Justice Cotter renewed Driver’s conditional bail following the verdicts and ordered that the 29-year-old, who appeared in court on a mobility scooter, should be sentenced alongside Davis on April 10.

The two-month trial heard Ollie was found at his home in Temple Walk, Leicester, after his “neck was snapped between four and eight days prior to his death”.

Adjourning the case, Mr Justice Cotter told Davis: “The position is that, by virtue of the verdicts of this jury, there is only one sentence which I can pass, which is a life sentence.

“However the minimum term you will serve remains to be determined.”

The judge then told Driver: “You have been convicted of serious offences. There will inevitably be a custodial sentence, the length of which I will determine on April 10.”

After thanking the jury for its service during the “difficult and demanding” case, the judge excused the panel from undertaking jury service for the next 20 years.

Sentence will take place in Loughborough because of better disabled access for Driver, the court heard.

“He was found lifeless in his crib in the bedroom that he shared with his parents at Upper Temple Walk here in Leicester.

“An ambulance was called and he was taken to the Leicester Royal Infirmary. However, medical staff were unable to revive him and at 7.30am it was agreed that attempts to resuscitate him should be discontinued.

“He was then pronounced dead. He died from the delayed effects of a broken neck.”

Some of the injuries Ollie had suffered were inflicted days before he was taken to hospital.

Mr Hankin added: “Although the pathology doesn’t allow us to identify the precise mechanism with certainty… the (medical) experts engaged in this case on all sides are agreed that the neck injury led to compression of the spinal cord, which in turn stopped Ollie breathing.

“What the pathology investigation can tell us is the neck was snapped between four and eight days prior to his death.”

The court heard the nature of the injuries meant multiple mechanisms, including severe compressive force, were required to cause them and they were not the result of a single episode of violence.

Determining which of Ollie’s parents was the “perpetrator” of his injuries was the key issue for the jury, Mr Hankin told the court.

The Crown’s barrister told the jury: “A broken neck was not the only injury Ollie sustained. Medical investigation revealed Ollie had sustained a total of 37 fractures.

Leicester Crown Court
Davis and Driver were found guilty at Leicester Crown Court (PA Archive)

“He also suffered brain injuries, bleeding over the surface of the brain.”

The injuries were inflicted over various overlapping time-frames of up to 10 days before death, the court heard.

Mr Hankin continued: “Ollie could not have caused the injuries to himself – he was a five-week-old pre-mobile baby.”

Driver, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year, and Davis both gave evidence to the jury and denied any wrongdoing.

In videoed police interviews, which were released by Leicestershire Police after the verdicts, Davis repeatedly insisted he could not account for Ollie’s injuries.

Claiming his son had appeared “peaceful” while asleep in his cot, Davis said of the neck fracture: “We will see how it’s happened. He seemed fine when he was sleeping. He wasn’t acting any differently.”

Detective Inspector Mark Parish said after the trial ended: “Today’s verdicts are the culmination of more than six years of police investigation and detailed medical examination by specialists.

“Davis and Driver have evaded justice since 2017 but will now be facing a lengthy sentence for their actions. Ollie was a defenceless newborn baby who was abused and ultimately killed by someone who should have protected and cared for him the most.”

The wider family of Ollie issued a statement through police, part of which read: “Our little ray of sunshine. We have been left with such a void in our hearts.

“Ollie, life has never been the same. You will always be with us our sweet boy.”

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