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Murder trial latest: 'There's something wrong with Jack...'

Defendant Daniel McLaren will not be taking the stand to give evidence in his own defence, court hears

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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Man denies murdering his own baby son

MURDER trial jurors have heard the heart-stopping moment a father, accused of shaking his own son to death, rang the mother to say: "There's something wrong with Jack."

By then, bricklayer Daniel McLaren had inflicted such devastating injuries on the four-month-old that he was unconscious and slipping into a deep coma which would result in his death two days later. 

The trial at Reading Crown Court has been told that Krystin Bartholomew left McLaren in charge of the baby at their home in Fleetwood Close, Newbury, on the evening of June 2 as she went to celebrate her sister's birthday with a meal at Gourmet Burger Kitchen in the town centre.

Sally Howes QC, prosecuting, said that, when she left, "Jack was awake and gurgling on his bean bag. She spent time talking to Jack and holding his hand. He was smiling away – normal, happy Jack."

Just after 7.30pm, emergency services received a call from McLaren to say Jack had "gone all funny... all stiff and then floppy".

Jack died, days later, from devastating head injuries which doctors believe were caused by shaking, the jury of seven women and five men heard.

In a statement to police, Ms Bartholomew said she was at the restaurant when she noticed her phone vibrating.

She said: "I wondered why (Daniel) was ringing me and I thought it was going to be something silly like where (the) dummy was or something ridiculous.

"I answered and he said to me, 'there's something wrong with Jack'. I said 'what do you mean...' and I think he said that he had had a fit or a seizure. I can't remember his exact words as I was panicking."

Ms Bartholomew said she and her mother raced back to the family home to find McLaren running from a neighbour's house.

She said: "I remember shouting at him, 'where's Jack' and he said: 'he's gone' (to hospital) and I remember saying 'why did you let him go on his own... if that was me I couldn't let him go alone.

"I didn't understand why he let him go alone...he is a baby and shouldn't be on his own."

McLaren denies murder but admits manslaughter.

He similarly denies a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to another child on a separate occasion but admits the lesser charge of simply causing grievous bodily harm.

The prosecution has now closed its case.

The judge, Mr Justice Nicol, told John Price QC, defending: "The stage has now been reached at which your client may give evidence."

Mr Price replied: "He will not be giving evidence, your honour."

The judge told the jury that they may "draw such inference from that as they feel proper".

Mr Price QC said that McLaren had been made aware of that and concluded: "I will be calling no evidence on his behalf."

It now remains for the prosecution and the defence to present their closing arguments and for the judge to sum up the evidence before the jury is discharged to consider verdicts.

* KEEP checking back with Newburytoday.co.uk for updates. And pick up a copy of the Newbury Weekly News next Thursday for an in-depth account of the trial, more details from the mother's statement and a reaction from the officer in the case.