A mum who delayed calling 999 for hours after finding her baby had suffered severe injuries at the hands of her partner before he died has walked free from court.
12-week-old Teddie Mitchell died days after sustaining fatal skull fractures, as well as brain and spinal injuries thanks to Kane Mitchell, 31 – who has today been jailed for 18 years for murder.
Lucci Smith, 30, who could have spared her son pain and suffering but not saved his life, was handed a two-year community order for cruelty to a child.
She was out on the school run when her boyfriend lost his temper with the infant and attacked him, Cambridge Crown Court heard.
Mitchell was also handed a 5-year concurrent sentence for cruelty or allowing serious physical harm to a child – with 247 days taken off his sentence for time served.
Teddie was just 11 weeks old when he was assaulted by Kane Mitchell on November 1, 2019, in St Neots.
Mitchell was not the baby boy’s biological father but had been living with his mother, Lucci Smith, and her other children in the family home.
While Smith was out on the school run, Mitchell had a “sudden temper and frustration with Teddie” causing the baby boy’s fatal injuries.
During the pair’s sentencing at Cambridge Crown Court today, February 5, Mr Justice Knowles acknowledged that while Mitchell did not intend to kill Teddie, there was “nonetheless an intention to cause really serious harm.”
Teddie, who was born August 16 2019 died in hospital 10 days after sustaining the fatal injuries.
Mr Knowles summarised the injuries in his sentencing, explaining that there had been a previous assault by Mitchell.
He said: “Teddie on that occasion received a fracture to his right clavicle and fractures to two left ribs.
“On November 1, by then 11 weeks old, Teddie received 17 rib fractures, a fracture to his left clavicle, fatal skull fractures, brain, spinal, and eye injuries.
“The rib and clavicle fractures were caused by Mr Mitchell grabbing Teddie and squeezing him with so much force that the ribs and clavicle went beyond their natural pliability to the point of fracturing.
“The fatal injuries to the head involved the violent striking by Mr Mitchell of Teddie’s head against a hard or unyielding surface.”
The fatal assault took place while Smith was out, taking her other children to school.
After she returned it became clear to her throughout the course of the morning and early afternoon that something was wrong with her baby.
However, 999 was not called until 3pm that day.
Mr Knowles outlined how by 12.56pm Smith was “expressing the opinion to her mother that ‘Teddie’s really ill’.”
She then called the GP at around 2.30pm, where it was made clear to her that she needed to call 999 urgently.
However, Mr Knowles explained: “Even then she delayed doing that until she had been to the school and collected her other children.
“On their return to the flat at 3 o’clock, Teddie had stopped breathing. 999 was then called.”
Mr Knowles went on to say: “Teddie’s injuries and suffering were as a direct result of the actions of Mr Mitchell about which, in the light of the jury’s verdict, Miss Smith was unaware and had no foresight of.
“Her failure to obtain earlier medical help could not have saved Teddie.
“It could have spared him some pain and suffering.”
Evidence from the trial showed that Smith did care about her children’s wellbeing and “loved them” explained Mr Knowles, and she was “capable of being highly competent” when it came to their physical care.
“But,” he continued, “there were nonetheless times, and this offence is one of the results, where she did not stand up for the children because of what she wanted from her relationship with Mr Mitchell.
“In its own way, that failure accounts for her delaying on November 1 and allowing Mr Mitchell to deflect her actions and any attempt on her part to focus on Teddie’s needs.
“At the same time, the situation on November 1 was serious. It was obvious to her that something was seriously wrong, and like no other occasion it required the action and focus she was capable of giving.”
Mitchell was described as an “overbearing partner” by Mr Knowles as he spoke of the defence’s mitigation, saying: “In its own way it diminishes her ability to push through his failure to assist in any way on November 1.”
In addition to the sentences handed out today, Mr Knowles said the pair would be included in a list “that bars them from regulated activities relating to children and vulnerable adults”.
Concluding, Mr Knowles thanked the work of the police, particularly the DCs involved with the case, and the legal teams, praising the “thorough and meticulous and expeditious” job undertaken by all sides.