The death of a baby who was killed by his paratrooper dad could have been “prevented” by the authorities who failed to act despite knowing about his father’s violent past, a report has revealed.
Tragic Theo Davies was just six-months-old when he was found with horrific injuries at his home on August 24, 2009, while in the care of soldier Jonathan James – who was on leave from the Armed Forces.
Little Theo suffered extensive bleeding behind the eyes and died of severe brain injuries at hospital the next day.
A court heard Private James, 26, violently shook his son in a fit of rage in a “momentary loss of temper or control” while Theo’s mother Leanne Davies was at the shops fetching milk.
James, from Stourport, Worcs., denied killing his son but was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison at Worcester Crown Court in December last year.
But on Monday, a serious case review revealed agencies were aware of James’ “violent and criminal history” and that Theo’s death could have been avoided.
The worrying report, published by Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB), also revealed agencies were aware that domestic abuse was a feature of his relationship with Ms Davies.
It found that none of the authorities involved in the case – including the police, armed forces, primary health trust and children’s services – knew the parents had made up and that Ms Davies allowed James to start seeing Theo again.
Diana Fulbrook, independent chairman of the WSCB, said: “The serious case review considered that the death was potentially preventable.
“If the agencies had known that the child was living with both parents, there would have been an assessment of risk to the child and a multi-agency plan put in place to manage this risk.
“The review concluded that there were lessons to be learned in relation to inter-agency working.
“Agencies believed that the parents’ relationship had ended permanently and support was provided to the mother to enable her to care for her son as a single parent.
“At first, the mother indicated that she did not want the father to have any involvement with the child.
“The situation changed when she agreed to supervised contact.”
At James’ manslaughter trial last year, Christopher Millington QC said it “probable” the youngster had been the victim of “violent and unlawful shaking” while in the sole care of his father.
But he told the court James, then of MoD St Athan, Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, had denied ever shaking his son and had told police he could not account for how the brain damage had occurred.
Mr Millington said on August 24 2009, James, who had been on leave from the armed forces when he heard his son stirring.
He went in and gave him a feed, as well as medication the youngster was taking for an ear infection.
When Ms Davies had got up they realised they had no milk so James had given her £10 to get some from a local store.
Mr Millington said she had returned minutes later to James calling for the emergency services and Theo in an unresponsive state.
Paramedics and doctors battled to save the youngster – first at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and then in Birmingham.
Although they restarted his heart he was unable breath independently and died a day later.
Mrs Fulbrook added that the WSCB’s thoughts were with Theo’s family.