Baby died after being shaken by boy, 16, court told

A four-month-old baby died from head injuries after he was violently shaken by a 16-year-old boy his mother was in a relationship with, a court has heard.

Elijah Shemwell was rushed to hospital on 2 January 2022 after he was found "not breathing very well" and “pale and limp” at his home in Belper, Derbyshire, when his mother India Shemwell returned from a shop.

He died in hospital three days later.

Elijah had been in the care of Carl Alesbrook, now 19, who is standing trial at Derby Crown Court accused of the baby's murder.

The court was told the defendant, of Upper Greenhill Gardens, Matlock, also caused rib and limb fractures to Elijah, one to two days prior to his hospital admission.

Elijah had bruises and fractures to his torso, which were indicative of forceful gripping, the court was told.

Derby Crown Court
Mr Alesbrook is on trial for murder at Derby Crown Court [BBC]

Prosecutor Vanessa Marshall KC said a doctor who examined Elijah on 4 January, noted 17 surface injuries which, in his view, were "caused by inflicted trauma".

She said the bruises Elijah - known as Eli - presented with, were ones "a four-month-old baby should not have".

Ms Marshall added that "although a four-month-old baby may just have learnt how to roll over, they are not capable of sitting, crawling or standing.

"Nor are they capable of generating enough force with a toy to bruise themselves."

The prosecutor added Elijah was left in the defendant’s care frequently between mid-November 2021and early January 2022.

She said: “Rather than protect him, it is the prosecution's case that instead, this defendant shook Elijah on at least two occasions, resulting in symptoms of brain damage or dysfunction and subdural bleeding, prior to a final shake on 2 January, which caused catastrophic head injuries and his premature death a few days later."

Defendant 'frustrated'

The court heard a post-mortem examination found the cause of death was head injury, and "as a result of the brain injury, Elijah suffered a period of cardiac arrest causing further brain damage".

Elijah’s mother India Shemwell started a relationship with the defendant, who was living in a care home at the time of the alleged attacks, in November 2021 but remained emotionally and sexually involved with Elijah's father, the court was told.

The prosecution said this “may well have caused this young defendant, some understandable frustration at the uncertainty of the status of his relationship with the mother of Eli, and may have had some bearing on why the defendant treated Eli in the way the prosecution say he did”.

The court heard although Ms Shemwell, who was 21 when her son died, was "a thoroughly inadequate mother who neglected Elijah, "it is not the prosecution’s case that she caused any of the injuries".

Mr Alesbrook is also accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm and causing grievous bodily harm with intent, relating to two previous earlier alleged attacks on Elijah.

He denies all three charges.

The trial continues.

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