Lancashire man shook his baby to death in a ‘moment of madness’

Oliver Mailey, 26, admits causing fatal head injuries when he shook his 8 week old son but said it was an accident and he didn’t intend to cause harm. Credit: LancsLive/MEN

A dad who shook his baby son to death said it was a ‘moment of madness’, a court heard.

Oliver Mailey, 26, admits causing fatal head injuries when he shook his eight-week-old son but said it was an accident and he did not mean to hurt him.

Giving evidence at Preston Crown Court, Mailey said he was 'buzzing' when he learned he was going to be a father.

Tests in a previous relationship confirmed he had a low sperm count and he did not believe he could have children, he told the court.

When his partner, Mollie Gorton, fell pregnant, five months into their relationship, Mailey said he questioned the baby's paternity, due to his medical history. However, he said once he realised his partner was telling the truth he was 'amazed'.

When Abel-Jax was born, in October 2021, Mailey said fatherhood was not what he expected.

"It was really stressful", he said. "I tried my best."

On 27 November 2021, Mailey took care of the eight-week-old baby overnight so his partner, Mollie Gorton, could sleep. 

He fed, changed and winded the baby two or three times during the night but told the court he and his partner thought the baby was constipated. 

Mailey later admitted he shook his little boy a week earlier, causing broken ribs. 

Shortly after arriving for her shift at Turf Moor FC, Burnley, Mailey messaged her to say Abel had filled his nappy.

But moments later, he held the baby in his hands and shook him backwards and forwards 'maybe five times', he said.

He said: "It was a moment of madness - to stop him crying. I'd tried to soothe him, rock him.

"He wouldn't stop crying. I'd changed his nappy, given him a bottle, everything like that."

Mailey said immediately after shaking him, Abel went limp, stopped breathing and turned grey. 

He called Mollie at work, and when she did not answer the phone, called Mollie's cousin, who was a mum, to ask for advice.

He managed to speak to both women and showed them Abel on a video call. Both told him to call an ambulance.

As Ms Gorton ran home from work, through snowy conditions, Mailey attempted CPR, as directed by emergency services.

"It was horrible. Devastating", he said. "I still think about it to this day."

However, he did not tell anyone he had shaken baby Abel. He told the court he thought Abel would be "really poorly" but thought the CPR would revive him.

Medics at Royal Blackburn Hospital carried out investigations into Abel’s collapse, including tests for Meningitis and Sepsis. 

When asked, Mailey still denied that he had shaken his son.

He continued his denials when both parents were arrested on suspicion of GBH, and when they were later accused of murder, following Abel's death on 30 November. 

Mailey only admitted he had killed Abel in December 2020, and maintained he had not shaken him a week earlier until the first day of his trial at Preston Crown Court. 

"I was just really scared", he said. "I didn't intend to hurt Abel. I know it's really bad. It eats away at me every day."

Timothy Cary KC, prosecuting, questioned why he only shook the baby when there was no-one else around.

"I didn't know it would cause serious harm," Mailey replied. 

Mr Cray KC reminded Mailey of a visit by the family's health visitor in the week between the two shaking incidents, in which they were told about the dangers of shaking babies, due to the soft nature of their brains.

Speaking about Mailey's lies, Mr Cray KC said: "Mollie has had to run back from work, she has seen her child with the paramedics in the ambulance... Let's not mince our words.

"A mother has her child on life support and you are prepared to let her be arrested on suspicion of causing those injuries?"

"Yes", replied Mailey.

"The day after Abel dies, she is arrested on suspicion of murder."

"Yes", replied Mailey.

"That was cruel, wasn't it? Can we agree you have got cruelty in you?"

"If you want to say that", said Mailey.

Mr Cray KC reminded Mailey he had continued to point the finger at Ms Gorton for the earlier shaking incident until the trial started at Preston Crown Court just a week before.

"You're a liar and a cruel man," he said. "You murdered your son."

"No I did not", Mailey said.

The trial continues.