A mum could have saved her murdered baby from a "devil" dad but instead covered up his abuse.
Mihai-Catalin Gulie violently shook six-month-old Robert Ion when his wife Gabriela Ion went out to a shop.
The 28-year-old left Robert - who had Down's Syndrome - with a broken skull and irreversible brain injury.
The woman-beater previously inflicted another brain injury and two broken ribs on his vulnerable son.
Ion, 35, witnessed that attack, but prison phone calls and Google searches revealed she hid Robert's bruises with toothpaste and an onion.
Gulie was found guilty of murder and Ion convicted of allowing the death of the child after a 14 day trial.
The dad was today jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years, while his wife was jailed for three years, of which she will serve 18 months behind bars, minus the time she has already spent in custody.
High Court judge Mrs Justice Yip told Ion she could have saved her baby, adding: "That is something you must live with for the rest of your life."
Jurors returned unanimous guilty verdicts against the couple, of Mersey Road, Widnes, at Liverpool Crown Court.
Gulie and Ion immigrated from Romania to Widnes in 2019, where a neighbour heard them constantly arguing.
Robert spent most of his life in hospital and only moved home with them and his two-year-old sister last Christmas.
Gulie assaulted him on February 18, after his wife nipped out to a shop with her daughter to buy sweets.
That morning he was emailing the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) about being reimbursed for daily taxi rides to visit Robert in hospital, totalling £4,000.
After Robert was rushed to hospital, Gulie told CAB "the child is in hospital again, he went breathless, was about to die".
Robert died three days later, when doctors discovered evidence of a past attack, on around February 7.
Charlotte Atherton, prosecuting, today read moving statements outlining the wider family's grief at the loss of the "precious" little boy.
Mrs Justice Yip said: "Robert is described as a smiley and good baby. He has his life ahead of him and no doubt would have continued to bring joy to those around him."
During the trial, Gulie denied hurting his child and said he noticed Robert had turned yellow and stopped breathing while "sitting with him on the sofa and watching TV".
He said: "I didn't even touch him or put my hands on him."
In court his partner accused him of causing the fatal injuries and said she lived in fear of him.
However, prosecutors said she "kept secret what was going on, until it was too late".
Prison calls made by the couple while held on remand revealed Ion knew Gulie had been "shaking and beating" Robert and that she used toothpaste to hide his bruises and didn't defend him.
Gulie admitted he once "forcefully pushed" Ion because she hadn't cooked him tea when he got home from work - which Justice Yip said he seemed to think was "reasonable" - and also once slapped his daughter's bottom.
Gulie confessed in one call to slapping Robert once on the bottom and throwing him onto pillows, about a month before he died.
He became upset and said it was "as if the devil possessed me".
The Liverpool Echo previously revealed the dad has a history of domestic violence, which he denies. Gulie was convicted in his absence in the Czech Republic in December 2017, when he was handed eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and deported from that country for five years.
Gordon Cole, QC, defending Gulie, today highlighted there was a "lack of premeditation" in his murder of Robert and said: "This was never presented as an intention to kill."
He said Gulie was "lightly convicted, rather than a young man with many, many previousconvictions for violence".
John Benson, QC, defending Ion, said she "failed to protect" Robert but in all other respects he was a "well cared for child".
He said a health visitor had "no concerns" about Robert when Ion twice took him to a GP surgery in the week before the fatal attack.
He said Gulie worked "extremely hard" for the family "holding down two jobs in one day" and provided a lot of care for Robert, including PEG feeds at night.
Justice Yip said: "The sad reality is both parents on occasion clearly did provide good care for Robert. The problem in this case is Mr Gulie had a temper and Ms Ion did not protect Robert from that."
Mr Benson said his client had been on remand in custody for 274 days and urged the judge to spare her jail.
He said her daughter was in foster care, she wished to be reunited, and the case was "a catastrophe for all concerned".
Justice Yip told Gulie while he worked hard and did night feeds, leading to "tiredness and frustration", that "cannot, of course, excuse what you did".
The judge said the neighbour's evidence revealed the family lived "in a climate of aggression", but the one incident of domestic violence by Gulie against Ion was "relatively minor" and she "overstated" her fear of him to the jury.
She said Gulie referred to needing to treat Robert "like porcelain" but he seriously assaulted him on February 7.
The judge said Ion eventually admitted seeing Gulie grab Robert by the chest and forcefully shake him "then slam him into his crib".
Justice Yip said the mum put an onion on his bottom and applied toothpaste to bruising on his face.
She rejected her claim she only did this for Robert's benefit, stating it was to get rid of bruising before taking him for immunisations.
The judge told Ion she had "no doubt that you were seeking to cover up what your partner had done".
She said: "You knew Robert was hurt. You described carrying him upstairs after Mr Gulie had assaulted him and noticing he was, to quote you 'whinging on one side'.
"This stuck in your mind and you must have realised it was significant, yet you did nothing to seek treatment or help for Robert.
"Had you done so, his fractured ribs would have been discovered and Robert would have been alive today.
"That is something you must live with for the rest of your life."
Justice Yip said Ion also described a previous time she saw Gulie pick Robert out of his pram and throw him onto a sofa, after which she spoke to his brother Florin, to stop him doing it again.
However, she said Ion knew this had no effect because she then witnessed the February 7 attack, but "did nothing more to protect Robert", when she could "easily" have sought the protection of her family, if not the authorities.
Justice Yip said on February 18 after returning from the shop, Ion must have realised her husband had assaulted "lifeless" Robert again.
The judge said: "Of course, only you, Mr Gulie, know exactly what you did to Robert. You have not been prepared to say.
"Even as Robert was critically ill, your first instinct Miss Ion was to cover for your partner rather than to protect your child.
"You continued to lie to the doctors who were trying to help Robert, to the police and social workers.
"You took a toy to the hospital and claimed Robert may have hurt himself with that, a suggestion which you recognised when giving evidence was ludicrous.
"You told the police that Mr Gulie was a good and caring father.
"I accept that you were both distressed by Robert's death, although you, Mr Gulie, have demonstrated no remorse for what you did.
"You, Miss Ion, have shown greater regret." The judge noted a psychiatrist found Ion was suffering from "an adjustment disorder", had not begun to grieve properly for her son, and his loss, along with the removal of her daughter, caused her "real distress".
She said Gulie's past abuse of Robert was a serious aggravating factor.
Justice Yip added: "Poor Robert undoubtedly suffered pain in the last days of his life."
She accepted Gulie didn't plan or intend to kill him, had lost his temper and then sought medical help, but it wasn't an isolated incident.
The judge said: "You knew you could not keep your temper and that Robert was not safe from you. Yet you did nothing to address that."
The parents showed no emotion when they were jailed.