October 2018

Evil dad who shook four-month-old son to death Googled ‘why is baby’s tongue blue?’

A 30-year-old man who violently shook his baby son to death was convicted of murdering the child today.

A jury heard how Daniel McLaren had carried out internet searches including ‘serious symptoms in babies never to ignore’, ‘why is my babies tongue blue?’ and ‘choking/turning blue’.

Bricklayer McLaren was remanded in custody by a High Court judge and will be sentenced on Monday.

The crime carries a mandatory life term in prison.

The father had been on trial for murder and causing grievous body harm to another child for almost two weeks but was convicted today by a unanimous jury verdict.

The jury at Reading Crown Court had heard that four-and-a-half month baby Jack McLaren had suffered severe brain damage over a period of time.

Prosecutor Sally Howes told the jury how McLaren shook his son so violently that his brain was badly damaged and a brain expert’s conclusion was that Jack had died as a result of bouts of shaking by his father.

McLaren had been arrested after investigations into little Jack’s death followed his admission to hospital.

Paramedics had rushed to the family home in Newbury, Berkshire after the father dialled 999 to say Jack “had choked on his feed bottle and had gone all funny.”

The murder trial, before Mr Justice Nicol heard that McLaren had been looking after his young son after his partner had gone out to a restaurant with friends.

Ms Howes told the jury of seven women and five men: “The Crown will argue that Jack McLaren’s death was caused by trauma to the brain consistent with shaking. Jack had gone from very normal to very unwell,” she said.

“A full forensic examination had shown no evidence of natural disease or congenital abnormality and that the death was due to head injury of the shaking impact type.”

She added that a medical expert examining the young boy’s death had reported that in his opinion that there were two accidents.

A recent one at the time of collapse and an older one that occurred many days previously to the death.

McLaren repeatedly folded his muscular arms and held his head in his hands, massaging his temples while the medical evidence was revealed to the jury.

Ms Howes went on: “At about 7.30pm on the evening of the June 2 2017, the defendant called the emergency services on his mobile phone. He told the operator that his four-and-a-half month old baby son had choked on his bottle and gone all funny.

He also said ‘he keeps going stiff and then flopping’.”

The prosecutor added that when an ambulance arrived minutes later, the crew found McLaren had gone to meet them, carrying the boy in his arms.

Jack had a white liquid coming out of his nostrils and his mouth and he was unconscious, unresponsive and hardly breathing. He was found to be in a critical condition.

Ms Howes said that McLaren had told medics: “I was feeding him downstairs and then I went upstairs. When I came back downstairs he was choking on his feed, there was milk coming out of his nose and mouth.

The jury was told that when medical teams realised how serious Jack’s condition was, he was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit at Southampton General Hospital where he was put on a life support machine.

However, his condition was found to be incompatible with life and support was withdrawn and Jack died shortly after, the court heard.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said tonight: “On Friday June last year Jack McLaren was left in the care of his father Daniel at their home in Fleetwood Close, while their mother went out for a family meal.

“Just after 7.30pm, McLaren called an ambulance. Paramedics arrived to find Jack unresponsive, in a critical condition, and he was taken to hospital. Jack died in hospital on Sunday, June 4 2017.

“McLaren, who was arrested on 6 June 2017, was charged in connection with the death the following day.

“During the subsequent investigation, a number of internet searches were made on McLaren’s mobile phone including ‘serious symptoms in babies never to ignore’, ‘why is my babies tongue blue?’ and ‘choking/turning blue’,” said the spokesman.

“McLaren was also found guilty of one count of Section 18 – causing grievous bodily harm with intent. This charge relates to injuries to another child.”

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Nick John, said: “Daniel was a parent to Jack and yet he abused this privileged position to kill his son.

“He should have been someone who Jack could rely upon to care for him with unconditional love, but instead he used physical force against a defenceless baby.

“By shaking Jack, he caused him injuries on two occasions which the little boy was ultimately unable to survive. Following the first incident, the internet searches he made indicated he knew his actions – shaking a baby – would cause him serious harm.

“His actions have deprived Jack’s mother, and all those who knew and loved him, of having him in their lives and being able to see him grow up. Our thoughts remain with them.”

McLaren was due to be sentenced on Monday.