Father's 'unimaginable' crime against son

·3-min read

A furious judge says a Victorian man can't claim he wasn't an abusive father before he killed his son because he's admitted being too rough with him in the past.

Cameron Staples was jailed for nine years last year over the 2019 death of his infant son Flynn but is appealing that sentence.

Almost immediately after his partner left to go to the cinema with a friend, Staples left the four-month-old boy home alone to go buy alcohol.

Over four or five hours Staples drank seven cans of bourbon and coke, and a cider.

Exactly how baby Flynn was injured isn't clear. Initially Staples lied and said his son fell off the change table, but he later said in recorded phone calls he had been "too rough with Flynn" like he usually was when affected by alcohol.

He said he had put Flynn down hard on the floor.

When the boy's mother returned home later she tried to rouse him to give him a bottle but left him to sleep when he seemed uninterested. She tried again an hour later and called triple zero after finding him limp and unresponsive.

Flynn died in hospital three days later. He had multiple brain bleeds, spinal cord bleeding and a serious brain injury, consistent with violent force or shaking.

Victorian Court of Appeal Justice Chris Maxwell said the fact Staples had done this to his own son was "unimaginable" but then he had lied about what happened.

"It doesn't get much worse than that when you've killed your own chid and lied about it to his mother when you know what you did," he said.

He pleaded guilty to child homicide, which has a maximum 20-year sentence.

Staples' barrister Sarah Lenthall said the nine-year sentence and seven-year non-parole period were excessive in this case, noting while the sentencing judge had found his diagnosed mental health conditions did not play a part in his offending they affected his prospects for rehabilitation.

She said the view was taken that because he was going to jail he wouldn't receive treatment. Because he wouldn't receive treatment his prospects were diminished and because his prospects were diminished it would result in a higher sentence, which would exacerbate the original problem.

"It's a flawed and unfair process for reasoning," she said.

Ms Lenthall said Staples had no prior criminal history and was not an abusive father, as was sometimes a factor in other cases involving the death of a child.

But Justice Maxwell rejected that.

"If he admits he was usually rough with the child when affected by alcohol ... then he is an abusive father, isn't he?" the judge questioned.

"He's describing what he's just done - which proves to be fatal - as consistent with his usual behaviour whenever he's had a few drinks."

Ms Lenthall said she understood his point, but there was a distinction between this case and others where there is a history of ongoing neglect and serious violence.

The judges will hand down their decision on Staples' appeal at a later date.

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