Mother jailed for killing toddler

Rebecca Shuttleworth has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years after being convicted of beating to death her two-year-old son. Keanu Williams had suffered 37 separate injuries, including extensive bruising to his head, when he died.

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Keanu's fatal injuries inflicted 48 hours before 999 call

Keanu Williams' lifeless body was found by paramedics after his mother's partner Luke Southerton dialled 999, claiming the boy had stopped breathing, was pale and had not been well.

Although fatal injuries had been inflicted up to 48 hours earlier, his mother Rebecca Shuttleworth did not seek medical help before the 999 call was made at 7.42pm on 9th January.

Two-year-old Keanu was left without medical help for 48-hours after his abuse.
Two-year-old Keanu was left without medical help for 48-hours after his abuse. Credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Christopher Hotten QC told the jury Keanu's injuries were not an "isolated event" but had been the culmination of a long period of ill-treatment which left him with numerous injuries.

See more: Toddler found with 37 injuries to his head, back and legs

During his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Spencer said: "The abdominal injury which killed Keanu was a massive tear of the mesentery, the apron of fat which provides the blood supply for the whole of the intestine.

"The force required to cause such an injury was very great indeed, likened by the pathologist to the forces in a road traffic collision.

"It must have been the result of heavy punches, a stamp or kick, or other blows. The depth and extent of bruising to Keanu's back strongly suggests he must have been thrown or slammed against the floor or a wall or another firm surface for at least part of the attack upon him."

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'Significant number' of missed opportunities Keanu case

A serious case review into Keanu's death, which is expected to examine social services contact with his mother, will be published in the near future.

In a statement the chairwoman of Birmingham's Safeguarding Children Board acknowledged that chances to take action had been missed.

Jane Held, the independent chairwoman of the multi-agency Board, said:

This is an extremely sad case and my sympathies are with those who knew Keanu.

While we can't go into detail prior to the review being made public, it is clear from this trial that professionals in the different agencies involved missed a significant number of opportunities to intervene and take action.

Keanu died a 'lingering death at the hands of his mother'

Explaining how he had arrived at the 18-year minimum term, Mr Justice Spencer said the murder was aggravated by several factors:

His was a lingering death over many hours following a brutal assault by his own mother.

This was the grossest abuse of a position of trust - you were his mother and it was your most basic and natural duty to protect him.

I accept that there was no intention to kill but this was a brutal and sustained attack.

Judge condemns 'brutal murder of a defenceless child'

Sentencing Rebecca Shuttleworth Mr Justice Spencer said:

The jury have convicted you of the brutal murder of your two-year-old son.

He was a defenceless child and it was your duty to protect him. Instead you beat him so severely he died a lingering death from his injuries a day or so later.

You have also been convicted of cruelty by failing to summon the medical aid he so badly needed.

By the jury's verdict, you alone were responsible for the violence which led to Keanu's death.

One can scarcely imagine the pain and distress Keanu must have suffered from this outburst of violence.

He must have been terrified, it must have been clear to you as soon as the violence had taken place that Keanu was badly in need of medical attention.

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Toddler found with 37 injuries to his head, back and legs

A police image illustrating some of the injuries identified on Keanu Williams.
A police image illustrating some of the injuries identified on Keanu Williams. Credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

Two-year-old Keanu Williams was found dead in his home in January 2011. His mother Rebecca Shuttleworth has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years after being convicted of beating him to death.

A police image illustrating some of the 37 injuries identified on the body of Keanu Williams.
A police image illustrating some of the 37 injuries identified on the body of Keanu Williams. Credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

The jury were told that when he died Keanu had 37 separate injuries including extensive bruising to his head, stomach, back and legs, as well as previous burns to his foot.

A police image illustrating some injuries identified on Keanu Williams' foot in December 2010.
A police image illustrating some injuries identified on Keanu Williams' foot in December 2010. Credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire
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Boyfriend given suspended sentence for toddler murder

The former partner of a woman found guilty of murdering her two-year-old son has been given a suspended sentence and 200 hours community service.

Keanu Williams, whose body showed 37 external marks of injury, was found dead in January 2011.

Luke Southerton, was yesterday found guilty of wilful assault.

The 31-year-old will also have to complete 30 days of victim awareness work.

Keanu's mother, Rebecca Shuttleworth, 25, was found guilty of murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.

Police on 'harrowing investigation' into Keanu's death

DCI Caroline Marsh has spoken outside court and said that there are lessons to be learnt after the death of Keanu Williams: "There is a lot of learning to come out of this investigation. The serious case review has looked in detail at the two years that lead up to Keanu's death."

Speaking about the extreme nature of the case and the investigation DCI Marsh said: "It was an extremely harrowing case, a two-year investigation and six-month trial and that takes a toll.

"This journey has been exhausting and what my team and I will do is go and debrief the last two years and try and to understand what has happened and move on with our lives, and hopefully never have to deal with a case like this again."

Rebecca Shuttleworth jailed for life

Rebecca Shuttleworth
Rebecca Shuttleworth was charged with the murder of two-year-old Keanu Williams. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Rebecca Shuttleworth has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years for the murder of her two-year-old son, who was beaten to death following months of ill-treatment.

The trial at Birmingham Crown Court heard how the body of her son Keanu Williams had 37 external injuries, a fractured skull and a fist-sized tear on his stomach when he was found dead in January 2011.

Shuttleworth's former partner - Luke Southerton - was cleared by the jury of murder, manslaughter and causing or allowing Keanu's death, but convicted on one count of cruelty.

The detective in charge of the investigation said it was the "worst" child abuse case she had ever seen.

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