Baby murder accused 'seen swinging his arms' in flat

A teenager accused of murdering a four-month-old baby by “fatally shaking him” was seen “swinging his arms” in the living room by a neighbour shortly before the infant became unresponsive, a court heard.

Elijah Shemwell died on 5 January 2022, three days after he was found to be “not breathing very well” and “pale and limp” when his mother returned to their home in Belper, Derbyshire, and called an ambulance.

Carl Alesbrook, who was 16 at the time, had been looking after Elijah that day.

Mr Alesbrook, of Upper Greenhill Gardens, Matlock, is standing trial at Derby Crown Court accused of murder.

'Lost his patience'

The court heard how Elijah was in the care of Mr Alesbrook, who was in a relationship with the baby's mother India Shemwell, for about an hour from 21:25 GMT on 2 January while Ms Shemwell went to a shop.

This was when the prosecution claims the “fatal shaking” took place.

At about 22:00, a neighbour was smoking a cigarette outside when through the window he saw a male in the living room of the flat “swinging his arms around – as if swimming or rowing a boat”, the court heard.

Vanessa Marshall KC, prosecuting, said: "[The neighbour] can’t say that he saw a baby being swung around in the air but what this tell us at the very least, that at that time, this defendant was awake and was in a heightened state, to the extent that he was swinging his arms around.

"In frustration? Having just shaken Elijah? We don’t know.”

Ms Marshall added: “On the defendant’s own account in interview, whilst Elijah was in his company alone, he went from being a crying and responsive baby to one that was barely breathing by the time India came home and saw Elijah.”

The court was told the injury that led to the death of Elijah - known as Eli - would have happened immediately prior to his collapse.

Derby Crown Court
Derby Crown Court heard how Elijah would have been in pain from limb and rib fractures [BBC]

The jury was told Mr Alesbrook, now 19, had previously shaken Elijah.

One shaking was likely to have taken place on 1 January, and caused limb and rib fractures, the court heard.

The court was also told Ms Shemwell, who was 21 when Elijah died, wanted to call 111 on 1 January because she was concerned about her baby's breathing and how he seemed pale.

But Mr Alesbrook stopped her, and told her Elijah "would be fine".

The prosecution told the court "the defendant lost his patience with Elijah for the last time" on 2 January.

Ms Marshall said: "No doubt [he was] irritable with pain from his toothache, at the end of his tether with a baby who was likely repeatedly crying, no doubt because of the pain from those broken bones that this defendant caused the night before and maybe he was frustrated because he was... distrusting of where his ‘shared’ girlfriend had gone to at this time of night."

Mr Alesbrook, who the court heard would take cannabis around Elijah, is also accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He denies all charges.

The trial continues.

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