Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Carers of Battered Baby Use Loophole; Duo Pin Blame on Each Other and Walk Free

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Carers of Battered Baby Use Loophole; Duo Pin Blame on Each Other and Walk Free

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Kennedy : Liz Walker

A COUPLE whose baby was badly battered have walked free from court because of a loophole in the law.

Eli Lowery was just eight months old when he suffered a litany of wounds including a fractured skull and "non-accidental injuries" all over his tiny body. But when his mother Zara Lowery and her former partner and Eli's ex-stepfather, Michael Dowse, both refused to say who was responsible, a loophole in the law meant they were both free to walk from court.

Their stance meant prosecutors could not prove who had dealt the blows and charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent had to be dropped and the pair pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of child cruelty. It left a judge at Newcastle Crown Court with no option but to free Dowse and Lowery on suspended prison sentences.

Horrified child welfare groups are demanding the Government closes the loophole to secure justice for victims such as Eli.

The court heard how Eli had suffered a bump on his head in March last year but instead of taking him to hospital Lowery had called NHS Direct. Prosecutors insist she should have sought proper medical help but it was not until nine days later she took him to see a doctor.

The family's GP was so concerned he referred Eli to hospital where staff uncovered the full extent of his appalling injuries. They found bruising to his forehead, nose, cheek, behind his ear and on his arms and legs.

Furthermore he also had a cut below his scrotum and other injuries to his buttocks area which could only be caused by "significant force". In view of the bruises, some of which the judge conceded may been sustained accidentally, Eli was given a CT scan which revealed he also had fractures to his skull.

Robert Adams, prosecuting, said: "They each must have known who the perpetrator was and the delay in getting help amounts to neglect. There was a series of assaults and these two are both responsible for failing to protect the child." Dowse, 26, of Northcott Gardens, Seghill, Northumberland and Lowery, 25, of Thornley Avenue, Mayfield Dale, Cramlington, both pleaded guilty to child cruelty on the basis of neglect and exposing the child to behaviour likely to cause suffering between March and April last year. …

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