A ONE-MONTH old baby let out a “high-pitched scream” after he was shaken “violently and extensively” to death by his father in a late-night rage, a court has heard.

James Lawton fatally assaulted his son Colby Lawton after breaking his skull in a separate incident days before his death in Newbury on May 9, 2020.

And Chantelle Stroud, Colby’s mother, allowed her partner to kill her son as she failed to protect him from a man who posed a “serious risk” towards both of them.

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That was the case put forward from a prosecuting barrister on day one of the pair’s trial, in which they are being tried in connection with the death of one-month-old Colby.

Lawton, 28, formerly of Boreham Field, Wiltshire, was accused of murder, causing grievous bodily harm with intent and cruelty to a person under the age of 16. He denies these charges.

Stroud, 25, of Newtown Road, Newbury, was accused of causing or allowing the death of a person under the age of 16. She denies this charge.

What did the prosecution say?

Prosecutor Eloise Marshall said: “James Lawton and Chantelle Stroud had a volatile relationship.

“When he was drunk he became violent and aggressive.

“In the lead up to Colby’s death, he assaulted him on two occasions.

“It’s possible he was violently shaken and his head was deliberately hit with something hard.

“It would have been obvious to Lawton that such an assault would have been harmful to Colby.

“The second assault took place moments before Colby’s death. We say there is no doubt he is responsible for the fatal death.

“He picked him up and shook him violently causing fractures, bleeding and fatal brain damage.

“James Lawton murdered Colby.

“His denial is completely at odds with medical evidence.

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“Chantelle Stroud suffered violence from James Lawton.

“She regularly made him leave her home because he was violent when drunk.

“She was aware of his animosity towards Colby because he told her he didn’t love him.

“In the days before Colby’s death, Stroud saw a significant number of injuries towards Colby, most significant of which was a lump on his head.

“Stroud failed to protect Colby by allowing Lawton to remain in her home in the face of aggression and animosity towards him.

“She heard Colby screaming when Lawton picked him up. She failed to seek medical assistance for an obvious head injury.

“She failed to seek medical help for his more serious injuries because she knew Lawton was responsible for them.

“On the night of Colby’s death she argued with Lawton, having already bought him alcohol.

“When she returned from the shop she heard a high-pitched scream from Colby.

“Rather than make Lawton leave the house, she allowed Lawton remain in her home drunk, angry and posing a serious risk towards them.”

What happened in the days before Colby’s death?

Colby Lawton was born April 10.

On one occasion after Colby’s birth, neighbours saw James Lawton blasting music loudly over the sound of his son’s cries.

Two weeks before Colby’s death, Stroud kicked Lawton out of her house after an argument, but they resolved the situation and he returned.

Around a week later, Stroud told a neighbour she was concerned about some bruises she had found on Colby.

The court heard how on another occasion, Lawton was heard saying he would throw Colby out of a window because he ‘wouldn’t stop screaming’.

On May 8, Lawton made Stroud aware of a bump on Colby’s head.

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At 6pm that day, Stroud invited a neighbour inside her flat for five minutes and the neighbour noticed four cans of Thatcher’s cider on the side.

Later, at 9.35pm, Stroud went to a local shop with a neighbour to buy more alcohol for that evening.

On her way back from the shop, Stroud heard a loud, high-pitched scream from her flat and told her neighbour “that’s Colby”.

She claimed he had been making loud, high-pitched screaming noises a lot, but later in a police interview she said she had never heard him scream like that before.

The prosecution said that between this time and Stroud making a call to 999 at 1.49am stating Colby was not breathing, there was no other evidence pertaining to the defendants.

Paramedics said he had blood coming from his nose, he was floppy and had no muscle tone.

Stroud was upset and crying and was asked if he was going to die.

Police asked Lawton what happened. He said he felt like he was being watched and judged.

“It’s the Crown’s case that Lawton was well aware of what he had done and the life-threatening injuries he had inflicted on Colby.

“Chantelle Stroud must have been aware of what he had done, too.”

Colby Lawton was pronounced dead at 3.06 am on May 9, 2020.

What did a post-mortem reveal?

Dr Brett Lockyer carried out the post-mortem.

The pathologist found 31 separate injuries to Colby’s head, including scratches, bruising and bleeding.

There was also bruising on the chest, marks on Colby’s left arm and shoulder, and nine separate bruises and marks.

Eight minor bruises were found on his left leg, and 14 more on the baby’s right leg.

The doctor gave estimated time frames of when Colby suffered his bone injuries and suggested they could have been inflicted between minutes and three days before his death.

Ms Marshall, prosecuting, said: “We say Colby was shaken extensively and violently, causing bleeds on the brains, fractures and the other injuries.

“We say this happened in the minutes and in the hour before Colby’s death.”

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Skull fractures and leg fractures were inflicted between one and three days before Colby’s death, caused by blunt force trauma -- the prosecution said.

“This demonstrates a pattern indicative of non-accidental injury. There is no explanation from Mr Lawton or Ms Stroud about how these injuries occurred”, Ms Marshall added.

Commenting on the shaking, a doctor who assisted in the post-mortem report noted: “This is the sort of injury that if an observer saw this happening to a child, they would know this is not the way you should handle a child.

“That kind of trauma is likely to result in high-pitched cries, breathing difficulties, floppiness and poor responsiveness.”

Colby’s cause of death was traumatic head injury.

Prosecutor Ms Marshall said: “He was assaulted twice. He was assaulted up to three days before his death when his skull was broken and other fractures were caused, and he was assaulted in the minutes before dying before the 999 call was made.

“There is no coincidence that James Lawton pointed out the bump to others from the skull fracture, because he is responsible for causing that skull fracture. He not only knew it was there, but why it was there.

“He was the last person to hold Colby. We say James Lawton attacked him again and caused his death.”

The trial got underway at Reading Crown Court on Monday, November.

It is set to resume tomorrow.