Uncle jailed after shaking nephew to death while watching football on TV

James Scott

A 31-year-old man who violently shook his three-month-old nephew to death so he could watch football on TV in peace has been jailed for nine years.

James Scott attacked Arlo Breslin in Stoke, Coventry, on June 29, 2018 while the boy's mother was out of the house on the school run.

Arlo suffered severe brain damage and broken ribs. His life-support machine was turned off three days later on July 2nd, Warwick Crown Court heard.

On Friday, December 10, a jury found Scott not guilty of murder, but guilty of the alternative charge of manslaughter.

Today, Scott was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Judge Martin Griffiths described Arlo as a "sweet and tiny baby" and said he had his whole life ahead of him after overcoming being born prematurely.

The judge said no one could have saved Arlo, although his grandfather, a medical expert, tried CPR, as did paramedics.

'You were tired, you wanted to watch the football highlights...and you didn't like having to look after and watch Arlo', Judge says

Three-month-old Arlo Breslin suffered severe brain damage and broken ribs Credit: West Midlands Police

The court heard how Scott’s sister took her three older children to school and left her son Arlo alone in the care of her brother.

Judge Griffiths said: "The brain injury you inflicted on Arlo was beyond repair - he never recovered, he was confirmed brain dead by two doctors and his life support was turned off on July 2, 2018."

The judge dismissed Scott's claims that one of his siblings could have been responsible.

Judge Griffiths said: "I am certain you made this up to deflect blame.

"You picked him up and shook him back and forth with such force that his brain function was damaged, his breathing stopped, his heart stopped and his death was inevitable."

As Scott had never admitted guilt, the judge explained what he believed happened, saying: "You had had a bad night and you were tired, you wanted to watch the football highlights on television and you didn't like having to look after and watch Arlo as well."

The judge went on to explain that, as the jury found Scott not guilty of murder, it meant he did not mean to kill Arlo, nor cause him serious harm.

Judge Griffiths said: "You wanted to make him quiet and still while you concentrated on the television.

"That is why you shook him, but you did it with such force that you killed him."

'It was not your intention to cause that harm, I do not think that you realised there was a high risk of death', the court hears

Scott was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court Credit: BPM

The judge said Scott had lied about not touching Arlo before his brain damage and about the fit he suffered afterwards.

Nicholas Johnson, mitigating, had previously explained that Scott has a mild learning disability and a lower than average IQ.

He said the two factors played a degree in his culpability because of his emotional instability and inability to deal with stressful situations.

Mr Johnson said: "The defendant was particularly vulnerable and he was in a position of trust."

Judge Griffiths explained that this was a mitigating factor, as well as the fact Scott was of previous 'good character' and had not any previous criminal record or offences.

He said that all witnesses said Scott was 'brilliant' with all of the children and was 'devoted' to Arlo.

Judge Griffiths said: "I am satisfied that although you had a lower IQ of 67 - placing you in the bottom two per cent of the population, just below the border of disability, which is 70 - you knew that grasping and shaking this little baby, with such force, with his head unsupported and holding tightly - enough to fracture his back ribs - carried a high risk of causing him really serious harm.

"Although it was not your intention to cause that harm, I do not think that you realised there was a high risk of death."

Judge Griffiths added: "You have never been violent to adults or to children - this offence was completely out of character.

"It was also not premeditated. The prosecution opened and closed the case on the basis of an intent formed in an instant, lasting a moment and to be regretted for a lifetime: that is also my conclusion from the evidence."

Scott was jailed for nine years and must serve at least two-thirds of his sentence before being released on licence.