The jury in the trial of a man accused of violently shaking a baby to death has been urged to control its emotions when deciding his fate.
The judge, Mr Justice MacDuff, made the plea in his final summing-up at the Nottingham Crown Court trial.
Scott Gladwin (20) denies the manslaughter of baby Scott Cawthorne, who was only 20-weeks-old when he died on 6th February, 2010.
Gladwin, who was just 16 at the time, is said by the prosecution to have caused a ‘catastrophic’ brain injury that led to the baby’s death at their home on Woodland Avenue, Huthwaite.
He had been left to care for the baby for less than half an hour while the baby’s mum, Kelly Middleton - then known as Kelly Moss - went to the shops.
Mr Justice MacDuff told the jury: “Over the last couple of weeks, you have heard some terrible things. There is no doubt this small baby suffered dreadful injuries.
“Your emotions will have been stirred by listening to harrowing evidence. But you must put those emotions to one side.
“What is required are cool, clear heads to assess all the evidence and reach a verdict.”
The jury was told they had to decide who was responsible for the death Gladwin or maybe mum Kelly, with whom he was living at the time and who was his sexual partner, even though she was about 12 years older.
The judge added: “The sole issue here is whether the baby’s death was unlawfully caused by Scott Gladwin.
“It is not contested that the death resulted from traumatic shaking. Someone shook him so violently and with such severe force that he suffered catastrophic injuries.
“The question is: are you sure it was Scott Gladwin? Another possible explanation is that the death was caused by Kelly. Maybe the baby was already in a collapsed condition before he came under the defendant’s care.”
The judge said the evidence suggested Kelly was ‘a proven liar’. He added: “Either she has told the truth or she has given false evidence to conceal her own wrongdoing.”
Mr Justice MacDuff referred to how Kelly had often been in tears when giving evidence.
“If you felt some pity for her, that is one of the emotions you must try to overcome,” said the judge.
“You may also take the view that she behaved badly in the days after the baby’s death by meeting Scott Gladwin for sex. But you cannot make moral judgements.
“You must assess the evidence dispassionately and without sympathy or antipathy.”
Similarly, Mr Justice MacDuff warned the jury not to make assumptions about the evidence given by the defendant under cross-examination.
“It was his choice to give evidence, and you may think that the contest with Yvonne Coen, QC (prosecuting barrister) was an unequal one,” said the judge.
“You could make an allowance for the defendant’s lack of erudition. He is a young man with low intelligence.
“Be careful to condemn him because he wasn’t able to field questions impressively or cogently. “
Pointing out that Gladwin ‘should have been at school’ at the time of the death, the judge added: “What might have been obvious behaviour to us might not have been obvious to him.”
Mr Justice MacDuff also urged the jury to “avoid any prejudice” against Gladwin because of his previous criminal record, which included offences for theft, burglary, possession of cannabis and resisting a police officer.
“There is nothing to say he had the propensity to commit violence against a small baby,” said the judge.
“Please disregard these previous convictions, Their only relevance is to assist you in the truthfulness of the assertion that Kelly Middleton was the perpetrator.”
The judge also pointed out that Gladwin’s lies to the police in interviews did not provide evidence of his guilt.
“His explanation is that he was told by Kelly to lie,” he said. “Kelly told the same untruths to the police.”