THE man accused of murdering his one-month-old baby in Newbury last year has told a court he did not cause the injuries that led to his death.

James Lawton, 28, formerly of Boreham Field, Wiltshire, said he accepted medical evidence that showed his son Colby had suffered fatal injuries prior to his death on May 9, 2020. 

But he denied any knowledge of how he received them and insisted he did not shake his baby to death, as the prosecution previously alleged.

The father started giving his evidence from the witness box today in a trial which has also seen Colby’s mother (and Lawton’s partner) Chantelle Stroud, 25, charged with causing or allowing the death of a person under the age of 16. Stroud denies the charge.

Eloise Marshall QC, prosecuting, said at the start of the trial: “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.”

READ MORE: Mother allowed partner to shake one-month-old baby to death, court hears

In her opening statement, Ms Marshall alleged that James Lawton fatally assaulted his son in the early hours of May 9, 2020, after breaking his skull in a separate incident days before.

When quizzed about a lump on Colby’s head the infant had sustained days before his death, Lawton said he did not know where the injury came from.

He said he did not seek medical advice after discussing the injury with Stroud despite asking his mother if he should get care for Colby.

The man recounted how in the week before his death, Colby would let out a loud, high-pitched cry when he picked him up and said the tot was not happy to be picked up in his last few days.

“If I picked him up and he was crying like that, I would pass him over to Chantelle [Stroud]”, Lawton said.

The day before Colby’s death, Stroud bought two four-packs of Tesco cider and four cans of Thatcher’s Cider in the early evening.

Lawton said he drank some of the alcohol and Stroud went out again at around 10pm to get more alcohol.

The 28-year-old said he had six cans of alcohol while watching TV that evening.

READ MORE: Duo charged over death of one-month-old baby

He rated his inebriation that evening as being ‘4/10’ and that he was the more influenced by alcohol of the two.

Lawton said Colby started ‘whinging’ before Stroud, of Newtown Road, Newbury, got back and he picked him up.

The defendant claimed this is when Colby let out a ‘high-pitched cry.’

“It made me panicky, I never really knew what to do in those situations. I never knew what he needed”, Lawton said.

The Wiltshire man said he tried to soothe Colby by carrying around their living room.

Reading Crown Court heard how Stroud came in and took Colby off Lawton and she fed him.

Lawton and Stroud then had an argument in which they were shouting at each other, the former claimed.

After this, Lawton went to watch a film in the living room.

Asked what his last interaction with Colby was before he was put to bed, Lawton responded: “When I had him in my arms walking around the sitting room and she [Stroud] came back with the shop.”

The next time he saw Colby was when he heard him making noises. The noises were “like a grunting sound”, the court heard.

He went into the bedroom to pick Colby up as he was “a bit pale.”

Lawton said Stroud would normally tend to Colby if he was making noise in the night.

“We’d had an argument that night, and I thought if I woke her up it would spark things off with her.

“We’d had arguments about me not helping out much so I thought it would kick off if I did [wake her up]”, Lawton said.

The father said Colby was not “as responsive as usual” but that “didn’t really concern me at that time.”

He said Colby did not cry when the baby was picked up and he started to feed him.

Lawton said he could not be sure if Colby was feeding at this point as he was “half-concentrating” as he was also watching the television.

Colby’s eyes were not open at this time, Lawton claimed, and his grunting sound stopped.

But he would then hear Colby ‘juddering’ and ‘gurgling’ and his ‘breathing was not normal.’

“He was really floppy at this point, I remember picking up one of his arms and let go of it thinking he would react to that, but he didn’t, it just flopped back down”, Lawton alleged.

Lawton said he went straight to the bedroom to wake Stroud up as he was “really panicky at this stage” and because he thought Colby was choking.

At this point, Colby was so pale he was “almost white”.

Lawton said he told Stroud Colby was not breathing. He passed him to her and patted him on the back.

They swapped phones. Stroud called an ambulance on Lawton’s phone as he had no credit, while he called his mother on Stroud’s phone.

He said a 999 responder told Stroud to give Colby CPR on a hard surface.

The court heard how Lawton attempted CPR on Colby by pinching his nose and breathing into his mouth, but did not try chest compressions.

Colby did not respond to these attempts to revive him.

Lawton said he noticed blood on Colby’s face when he was laid on the breakfast bar and cleared up the blood while police were at their house.

The defendant said he accepted medical evidence showed Colby had injuries that caused his death, but denied having any knowledge of how he sustained them or having inflicted them himself.

Quizzed by a lawyer speaking on behalf of Ms Stroud, Lawton admitted he had previously assaulted his partner, including headbutting her.

He confessed to punching a neighbour, too, after they tried to calm him down following a row with Stroud in which he admitted cheating on her.

The trial continues.

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