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Reading Crown Court: Jurors in Newbury baby murder trial told of parents' volatile relationship

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THE man accused of murdering his own baby son was a violent drunk who savagely beat his partner, jurors were told.

Reading Crown Court heard of a catalogue of beatings allegedly meted out by James Lawton to Chantelle Stroud.

Earlier Eloise Marshall QC, prosecuting, had told the jury how the pair's four-week-old Colby Lawton sustained multiple, horrific injuries in his short life, including 50 broken bones and a fractured skull.

Crown Court (52800221)
Crown Court (52800221)

Mr Lawton, aged 28, latterly of Boreham Field in Warminster, Wiltshire, denies murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Ms Stroud, aged 25, formerly of Ashridge Court, Newbury, and who now lives at Newtown Road, Newbury, denies causing or allowing the death of a child.

After describing how Colby died from his injuries at Ashridge Court on May 9 last year, Ms Marshall went on to outline Mr Lawton's drunken violence towards his family.

She said Mr Lawton repeatedly attacked Ms Stroud by slapping her, smashing a wine bottle into her face, headbutting her, punching her repeatedly in the head and hurling her downstairs.

The home had broken walls, windows and doors where Mr Lawton had taken out his drunken rage on them, jurors were told.

Ms Marshall said: "Friends and neighbours will describe a volatile relationship between these two."

On some occasions, the court heard, Ms Stroud would lie to social services to cover for him.

But on other occasions she would kick him out of the home.

This showed, suggested Ms Marshall, that Ms Stroud "was more than capable of kicking him out the door when his behaviour wasn't acceptable to her".

It is the prosecution's case that, while she sometimes made Mr Lawton leave when he attacked her, she did not act the same way to protect her baby from him.

Ms Marshall said: "Significantly, she was aware of a very serious injury to Colby's head, which she accepts had been noted by them a couple of days before his death.

"But she failed to get any medical attention for him... she lied to social services and to health care providers. She disguised the fact they were back together and Mr Lawton was now living with her again."

She added: "It is the crown's case that she allowed Colby's death through neglect. We say she knew James Lawton was a danger to Colby.

"Indeed the crown says this demonstrates she wasn't just aware of the danger he posed to Colby but she was aware of it for a substantial period of time.

Ms Marshall went on: "You will hear of texts between them in the months leading up to Colby's death that show how volatile the relationship was."

The trial continues.

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