Leon Mathias jailed for life for murder of baby Hunter in Barnsley

 Leon Mathias Hunter Mathias
Leon Mathias 'snapped' while giving Hunter a bath, a court heard. Credit: South Yorkshire Police

A father who "snapped" and murdered his baby son while giving him a bath after a day at work has been jailed for life.Leon Mathias, 34, was guilty of "grotesque" violence when he killed nine-week-old Hunter at their home in Barnsley, a judge said.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how labourer Mathias had returned home to Stonegate Lane in Barnsley after a hard day at work on 30 November 2018. The house was full of people and, after briefly socialising, he took baby Hunter upstairs for a bath.

During his trial, the court heard Mathias "snapped" and shook his son in a "moment of frustration". 

Hunter was taken to Barnsley Hospital before being transferred to Sheffield Children's Hospital, where he died three days later.

He had suffered severe brain and eye injuries, bruising to his scalp and leg fractures.

Mathias did not tell hospital staff what had happened, and told his partner to "shut up" when she told a nurse Hunter had been smiling that morning.

He denied murder, but was convicted after a 13-week trial.

Judge Mrs Justice Lambert told him: "Instead of trying to save your son by telling staff what had happened, you chose to stay quiet.

"Your focus remained on your predicament and not Hunter's."

Peter Griffiths KC, mitigating, said Mathias's actions were "completely and utterly out of character" and "over in a matter of seconds".

He said it was not a pre-meditated act and Mathias was of previous good character, with a previously "loving relationship" towards Hunter and his partner.

Jailing him for a minimum of 16 years, Mrs Justice Lambert called Mathias's behaviour "nothing short of grotesque".

She said: "We must all live with the consequences of our actions. You have expressed no remorse throughout this process."She added that Mathias snapped for "no good reason other than that you had had a hard day at work" and that Hunter "should have been safe in your arms".After the sentence was passed, family members in the public gallery shouted "we are all behind you" and "we know you're innocent" as Mathias was led away.

Senior investigating officer, Det Ch Insp Mark Oughton, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "My team and I have been fighting for justice for Hunter for over four years, and I am incredibly pleased that the sentence passed today reflects the horror of Mathias’s actions."

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