Age: 15 weeks
Date: 8 Jul 2016
Nathan Chiu was found unresponsive by paramedics on 29 July 2016 and taken to hospital where he died from head injuries on 1 August 2016.
His father was accused of his manslaughter and tried at Newcastle Crown Court, but acquitted on 28 June 2018. The prosecution said that he shook his son or caused him to impact against a surface or both, causing bleeding on the brain and in the eyes, leading to cardiac and respiratory arrest
It was heard that Nathan Chiu had been upstairs at home in his cot on the night of 29 July 2016 and that his father and mother had taken it in turns to attend to him.
The father said that he went up at one point and found Nathan Chiu crying loudly and thrashing his arms about and so he picked him up to sooth him before putting him back in his cot. He said that he then went back down again to his wife and said that they could hear Nathan Chiu crying through the baby monitor and said that his cries turned to a whimper before stopping altogether. However, the father said that when he checked on Nathan Chiu, he found that he didn't look right and that his head was slumped over.
An ambulance was then called, and Nathan Chiu was found unresponsive and not breathing by paramedics. He was taken to hospital but didn't recover and his life support was switched off on 1 August 2016.
Nathan Chiu ‘s post mortem revealed that he had bleeding on the brain and in his eye as well as well as acute bleeding in the nerve roots throughout the length of his spinal cord.
Nathan Chiu's father denied doing any harm to Nathan Chiu. He said, 'I’ve thought about it long and hard and I’m convinced, 100% certain, I did not do anything to put harm in my son’s way'.
The prosecution accused him of vigorously shaking Nathan Chiu in temper or frustration after he wouldn't stop crying, causing him bleeding on the brain which led to cardiac and respiratory arrest.
They said that it was not alleged that Nathan Chiu‘s father intended to cause his son’s death or that he intended the degree of harm which ensued as a result of his actions, but that he deliberately used a degree of force which was excessive and inappropriate in the case of a baby of his age. They said that any reasonable and responsible person would have realised it would cause some physical harm to Nathan Chiu and that it was clearly inappropriate in the case of a vulnerable baby of 15 weeks of age.
The court was told that Nathan Chiu’s father either shook his son or caused him to impact against some surface or did both and the result of his actions set in train bleeding within his skull, leading to a devastating brain injury from which he was never to recover. It was said that even though Nathan Chiu’s father had denied any responsibility for causing Nathan Chiu’s death, that the inescapable conclusion from the facts was that someone deliberately shook or otherwise injured Nathan Chiu and caused his death. It was then said that that person could only have been Nathan Chiu’s father.
It was said that the evidence established that no-one else could have shaken or deliberately injured Nathan Chiu in that way. It was heard that as well as bleeding on the brain and in the eyes, that Nathan Chiu had acute bleeding in the nerve roots throughout the length of his spinal cord, which were associated with a non-accidental trauma in the form of shaking and that no explanation could be found other than that he had been shaken by someone in his home. It was noted that Nathan Chiu would have been rendered unconscious almost immediately upon being shaken in the way that caused his injury.
The court also heard that evidence was also found of an earlier episode of subdural bleeding that suggested a previous episode of head trauma that had been sustained some time before the fatal injury of 29 July 2016 which suggested that the night of 29 July 2016 was not the first time Nathan Chiu had been shaken or treated that way, but on that earlier occasion the force used had not been fatal and was otherwise unnoticed and undetected.
It was heard that otherwise, on the night of Friday 29 July 2016, Nathan Chiu had been a normal, healthy baby, although he had needed some Calpol as he had developed a temperature whilst with his mother.
It was heard then that after they had put him in his cot, they, the mother and father, had taken it in turns to see him when he had started crying.
It was heard that after the father went up at one point, Nathan Chiu's crying, which had gone on for ten or twenty minutes, had change. His mother said that she could hear Nathan Chiu on the baby monitor and said that his crying was 'like a whimpering noise, like he was just too tired and exhausted'.
The court heard that once Nathan Chiu had stopped whimpering that no further noise was heard from him and that about ten minutes later Nathan Chiu's father went to the toilet and his wife asked him to look in on Nathan Chiu which he did, and that after that he called out to his wife and ran downstairs holding Nathan Chiu, who was not breathing and passed him to her. It was heard that Nathan Chiu's mother then did CPR and Nathan Chiu's father called for an ambulance.
It was heard that there was a substantial body of expert medical evidence that pointed to the conclusion that Nathan Chiu died as a result of deliberately inflicted trauma, and that it was the prosecutions opinion that no other reasonable conclusion could be drawn other than that Nathan Chiu’s collapse and death was caused by some deliberately inflicted trauma, whiich was in all probability in the form of vigorous shaking, with or without impact. and that the evidence for who was responsible was overwhelming, despite Nathan Chiu's father’s denial of responsibility, and that that was that Nathan Chiu's father had deliberately and unlawfully caused Nathan Chiu's death by the use of excessive force which arose by way of a momentary loss of temper or an act of frustration when Nathan Chiu would not settle. The court then heard that, 'Common sense would tell anyone children are not admitted to hospital in a state of unconsciousness in this state of injury as a result of ordinary handling and minor mishaps'.
However, Nathan Chiu's father denied the charges.
At the trial he said that he loved Nathan Chiu and said that he would never do anything to hurt his children, saying that it was 'not his personality' to do such a thing and added that it was 'extremely distressing' for him to be accused of doing so.
When the father was accused of losing control and shaking Nathan Chiu at the trial, he said, 'That is not true, that’s not my personality. I would never do anything to hurt my children. I loved Nathan. There’s not a day goes by I don’t think about him. I would just not do that. I don’t lose my temper over trivial things. I can’t even contemplate losing my temper with my children'.
After the judge summed up, the jury found Nathan Chiu's father not guilty after four hours deliberation. Their verdict was unanimous.
see Chronicle Live