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Mother jailed after baby's death

A mother found guilty of the familial homicide of her 13-month-old baby in a landmark prosecution has been jailed for six years at Swansea Crown Court.

Rebecca Lewis, 21, failed to prevent baby Aaron Gilbert's murder by her partner Andrew Lloyd, 23, in May 2005.

The Swansea woman's prosecution for the new offence of familial homicide was the first in Wales.

Lloyd, also from the city, was jailed for 24 years after admitting murdering Aaron, who died from brain damage.

Lewis was one of the first people in the UK to be convicted of familial homicide, which became law in May 2005.

She had denied the charge but was found guilty last month following a four-week trial.

The jury at Swansea Crown Court heard that Lewis had begun a relationship with Lloyd following the break-up of her relationship with Aaron's father, Gareth Gilbert.

The court was told that although Lewis was largely absent during Lloyd's attacks on her son, she did nothing to prevent it.

Lewis admitted that the baby became terrified of Lloyd and that she had seen Lloyd flicking the child's ears and feet when he cried, picking him up by his ears and ankles and throwing him onto a bed and settee.

But she told the court she had trusted Lloyd and did not believe he would seriously hurt the baby.

On the day before Aaron died on 5 May 2005, Lewis left the baby with Lloyd for about 15 minutes to go shopping.

When she returned, Aaron was lying on the kitchen floor with Lloyd trying to revive him.

Doctors at Swansea's Singleton Hospital and later the University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff, tried for 18 hours to save Aaron's life but he died of brain damage.

Paul Lewis QC, prosecuting, said Lloyd had caused a "constellation of some 50 injuries" including extensive swelling and bruising, significant internal injury to the brain and a bite mark to the child's face.

Lloyd had initially denied Aaron's murder, but changed his plea to guilty during the trial.

Passing sentence, High Court judge Mr Justice Langstaff told Lloyd: "You murdered Aaron after subjecting him to a sustained regime of beatings during the last four weeks of his life."

He told Lewis she had allowed the violence against Aaron to continue for her "own selfish reasons".

"You put your own interests first, above and beyond that of your vulnerable child," he added.

"You could have stopped the violence that Lloyd was subjecting Aaron to. You could so easily have got the authorities to stop it."

Det Ch Insp Paul Burke, of South Wales Police, said he was pleased a "difficult" inquiry was over.

He said: "We are pleased at the outcome and relieved for the family who have been through an extremely sad and upsetting period.

"Perhaps now his family and friends will be able to close this awful chapter in their lives, and move on. Our thoughts are with them."

Familial homicide was introduced in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 to deal with parents who keep silent or blame each other for fatal injuries involving children.

A 21-year-old mother received a two-year community order after being convicted of the offence in April 2006 in south London.

NSPCC Cymru/Wales director, Greta Thomas, said of the Aaron Gilbert case: "Without this new law it is likely that Rebecca Lewis and Andrew Lloyd would have joined a long list of couples who have been acquitted or not even brought to trial for murdering a child."

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