What happened to 4-month-old Dallas Kelly who was murdered by his father?

Georgia Wright (L) and Reece Kelly (R) Credit: ITV Border / Cumbria Police

Dallas Kelly never saw his first birthday. The baby died aged four months, after being shaken by his father so violently he suffered multiple rib fractures, a fatal brain injury, and damage to both eyes.

The last few weeks have seen the facts of his life, and the lifestyle his parents led, laid bare for a jury at Carlisle Crown Court.

Dallas's father, Reece, was found guilty of murder and two counts of child cruelty. 23-year-old Georgia Wright was found not guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child, and found guilty of child cruelty.

What happened to Dallas Kelly?

On the morning of the 15 October 2021, Georgia Wright left her home in Workington to go to work, leaving Dallas in the care of her partner of three years, Reece Kelly.

By the end of the day, Dallas was critically ill at West Cumberland hospital. Four days later, after a transfer to a hospital in Newcastle, he was dead.

Reece Kelly was found guilty of murder. Credit: Cumbria Police

An autopsy found the baby had eight rib fractures, a bleed on his brain, and detached retinas in his eyes.

Upon arrest, Reece Kelly could not explain to police how Dallas had sustained his injuries. He said he had heard a commotion from Dallas, who had been in his cot upstairs.

He said he shook Dallas, lightly, to revive him, at which point his son "flopped" on the bed, and stopped responding.

But on the first day of the trial, Kelly pleaded guilty to manslaughter - meaning he accepted having committed an 'unlawful act' which had resulted in the death of Dallas. He denied murdering him.

Georgia Wright denied causing or allowing the death. She earlier told the court how Kelly had been an "amazing father," adding that she wouldn't have ever left her home if she had been concerned about the safety of her son.

But after he admitted manslaughter, Wright claimed her view of him had changed - describing him as a "monster."

Drug abuse and spiralling debt

The court saw text messages to multiple people, described as drug dealers by prosecutors, by both Wright and Kelly as they looked for drugs.

Kelly habitually contacted his mother for money to buy drugs, with his debts to her reaching £3,000.

Both Wright and Kelly accepted being addicted to multiple substances, primarily opioid medications obtained without prescription.

At one point the prosecution described drugs as "more important than food" for the couple, alleging that Kelly had been looking for drugs even as his son was dying in hospital.

They both regularly smoked cannabis, but denied using any other illegal drugs.

The couple spoke about suffering withdrawal symptoms from coming off medications like Tramadol and Pregabalin obtained without prescription.

The prosecution argued that this made the pair unfit to look after their son, although they disagreed.

A "toxic" relationship?

The prosecution attempted to paint the relationship between the pair as toxic, based on a message Georgia Wright sent weeks before the death of Dallas.

They also claimed the relationship had been violent, evidenced by another messages sent by Wright in which she claimed to have received bruises on her arms.

Both Wright and Kelly denied this, saying they had a good relationship. The bruising incident was described as a "push" by Kelly, during the one argument they had in three years in the weeks before the death of baby Dallas.

Detective Superintendent Jenny Beattie, who led the investigation into Dallas’ death, said: “Both Reece Kelly and Georgia Wright denied their involvement throughout a lengthy and thorough criminal investigation into the death of their son. 

“As a parent you have no greater responsibility than to your child. Reece Kelly and Georgia Wright did not provide the care that a young child requires.

“They regularly left Dallas unsupervised whilst they took drugs. They failed to take him to medical appointments and are still to take full responsibility for their actions. 

“From the outset, the objective of our investigation was to robustly and sensitively establish what happened to Dallas. No verdict or sentence will bring Dallas back; however, we now know that the person responsible for his death has been brought to justice.”  

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