Dewsbury man jailed for murder 21 years after leaving toddler son with lifelong brain damage

Lewis Turner died 18 years after he was smothered by Alan Bird Credit: West Yorkshire Police

A man who left his son with lifelong brain damage after smothering him as a toddler has been jailed for his murder 21 years later.

Lewis Turner was left permanently injured after being suffocated by Alan Bird at their home in Dewsbury in 2001, when he was two years old.

He lived for another 18 years, before being found dead aged 19 at the home of his adoptive parents in Leeds in July 2019.

The cause of death was found to be an infection caused by a feeding tube.

Bird, of Common Road, Batley, had already served five years in prison in 2002 for causing grievous bodily harm and child cruelty. But, following Lewis's death, he was charged with murder.

The prosecution argued Lewis only needed a feeding tube as a direct result of Bird's attack and that he was therefore criminally responsible for his death.

Lewis Turner Credit: West Yorkshire Police

Bird, 48, denied the charge but was found guilty by a unanimous jury verdict at Leeds Crown Court. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of eight years.

Det Insp James Entwistle, of Leeds District CID, said it was a "complex and challenging investigation".

He said: "This is an absolutely tragic case where a child has ultimately had their life taken away from them by their parent, who should have been there to care for and protect them.

"Lewis was initially left with severe disabilities after being seriously assaulted by Bird and died as a direct result of his actions, which were the violent culmination of a pattern of abuse and neglect of this little boy.

"Despite the care and support of his adoptive parents, Lewis’s quality of life was catastrophically reduced by the extensive disabilities caused to him by his father.

"Bird has rightly been convicted of murdering Lewis and the responsibility for his death rests solely with him."

In a statement, Lewis’s adoptive family said: "Lewis is greatly missed by all of us. From the moment we adopted Lewis, we tried to provide him with as normal a life as possible, despite the severe injuries he had sustained.

"We are grateful that we were able to have so many fun and happy times with Lewis and make memories that we will always treasure. Lewis brought us so much joy, laughter and love whenever he was around. Lewis will always be with us."