Mother found guilty of allowing the death of two-year-old son who was murdered by her partner
A mother has been found guilty of allowing the death of her two-year-old son who died of a head injury after being murdered by her partner.
Sarah O’Brien, 33, was cleared of murdering Keigan O’Brien, after a trial at Sheffield Crown Court lasting nearly five weeks.
However, she was convicted of the alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a child and child cruelty.
Martin Currie, 36, her partner of six months, was found guilty of murder and child cruelty.
Jurors were told Keigan suffered a brain bleed in the incident in January, possibly from having his head hit against a wall or the floor. Over the previous weeks, he had suffered a broken spine, broken ribs and a broken arm due to twisting.
On the morning he was fatally injured, he had been in the care of Currie (pictured) at the family home, in Bosworth Road, Doncaster, while O’Brien was out of the house, the court heard.
The trial heard that Currie searched the internet for terms including “irregular breathing”, “gurgling” and “unconscious” two hours before seeking medical help.
The couple rang 999 at 10.55am after claiming to have found him not breathing in bed and did not explain how he came by his injuries.
The court heard that the couple had previously called Keigan derogatory names in messages to each other, referring to him as “wankstain” and “shithead”.
O’Brien (pictured) had embarked on the relationship with Currie six months before Keigan’s death, despite warnings not to go out with him, the court heard.
In October, she did not seek medical help when her son suffered two black eyes while in the care of Currie, telling her friend the toddler had fallen down the stairs, jurors were told.
O’Brien explained to the friend she did not take him to hospital because “they will start asking questions”.
Later examination found blood spatters on the wall by Keigan’s high chair, not from the time he was fatally injured, and on Currie’s clothes, the prosecution said.
The jury delivered its verdicts after deliberating for nearly 13 hours.
The defendants did not sit in the dock together but heard the verdicts separately.
They will be sentenced at a later date.
Jill Brookes, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Tragically, little Keigan O’Brien’s life came to an end only four days after his second birthday.
“He was killed in his own home – the place where he should have been safest from harm.
“Having heard all the evidence, the jury decided that Currie inflicted fatal injuries on the defenceless little boy and O’Brien took no steps to protect her child. They both then lied about what had happened.”
She added: “The desperately sad and shocking outcome of this case is that Keigan’s life ended before it had barely begun.”
Following the verdicts, Keigan’s father said: “Keigan was such a special little boy. He was loveable, playful, energetic and full of fun.
“He will always have a place in our hearts and will be missed terribly. He will never be forgotten and we are truly heartbroken.”
Detective Chief Inspector James Axe, of South Yorkshire Police, welcomed the verdicts and said Currie and O’Brien had shown no remorse for Keigan’s death.
He said: “The only two people responsible for Keigan’s death are O’Brien and Currie, two people who should have loved and cared for him.
“In fact, they should have been the very people who protected little Keigan above all else.”
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