A former caretaker has been found guilty of killing his girlfriend’s young son after a campaign of “sadistic” abuse.
Drug addict Jake Drummond, 33, fatally shook and hit 15-month-old Jacob Lennon early on August 27 2019, leaving him with a face like a “panda”, the Old Bailey heard.
In the weeks before, Jacob suffered yet more injuries to his face, body and genitals while the boy’s mother Louise Lennon, 32, failed to stop it, jurors were told.
Five days before the killing, Drummond sent her a sinister message saying he was putting Jacob into the “torture chamber” in reference to his bedroom, jurors heard.
It followed a meme of the Hollywood actor Ben Stiller in the film Happy Gilmore with the quote: “Now you will go to sleep or I will put you to sleep.”
In another message, Lennon referred to Jacob as looking like “a little madman” because of his bruises.
The pair had denied wrongdoing and blamed each other for Jacob’s horrific injuries.
Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Drummond was found guilty of murder and wounding Jacob with intent.
Lennon, 32, was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child having earlier admitted child cruelty.
The court had heard how social services had placed Jacob under a child protection plan under the category of emotional abuse in December 2018.
But on August 20 2019 Lennon lied to the social worker by saying she was on holiday in Hastings to skip a planned visit.
Meanwhile, Drummond had already embarked on “a campaign of deliberately assaulting and hurting Jacob”, prosecutor Sally O’Neill KC had said.
Drummond was frustrated at Jacob staying in bed with him and Lennon rather than his cot as the defendant struggled with sleeplessness due to his cocaine habit.
On the day before the fatal attack, Drummond was also angered at having to go to a police station after a former girlfriend accused him of harassing her in a way that was “little short of obsessive”.
Early the next day, Jacob was taken out of bed and shaken and hit so severely he fell unconscious, jurors were told.
Afterwards, Lennon concocted a story for emergency services that Jacob had fallen out of his cot.
She also claimed he had tripped on the way from a supermarket back to their flat in Roehampton, south-west London, days before.
Medics found Jacob’s eyes were so swollen they could not open and he “looked like a panda”.
He had more bruises on his forehead, temples and cheeks and his skull was described as being soft and spongy.
Jacob, who was later found to have traces of cocaine in his body, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead just over an hour later.
A post-mortem examination found he died from a fatal head injury, likely from being hit against a blunt surface while being shaken.
Some of his injuries were inflicted days or weeks before the final assault.
Ms O’Neill told jurors: “There were 20 marks of recent injury on Jacob’s head, face and neck, 11 to his upper limbs, seven to his lower limbs and seven to his trunk.”
The pathologist identified a “gaping” 3cm long cut to Jacob’s penis from “extreme pinching” or “biting” and a wound to his scrotum.
The prosecutor said: “The injury to the scrotum was a penetrating injury as a result of penetration by a semi-sharp or sharp object such as a small-bladed weapon including a skewer or similar in preceding days.”
The injuries to Jacob’s genitals were said to be “sadistic” and were the subject of Drummond’s wounding charge.
A pathologist rejected a claim the cut could have been caused by a Toy Story themed “Mr Potato Head” plastic knife.
Drummond denied that he injured Jacob and Lennon said she was being “coerced and threatened” by her boyfriend into not getting help for her son.
The court heard that Drummond received a juvenile warning in 2005 for holding a knife against his mother’s throat and a conviction in 2008 for assaulting another ex-girlfriend by pushing her against a wall.
The other ex-partner he was warned against harassing also claimed he had previously grabbed her around the neck to the point she nearly passed out, jurors were told
The jury deliberated over two days to find the pair guilty of the charges against them.
Mr Justice Sweeting adjourned sentencing until April 24 for reports to be prepared.
Lennon was granted continued bail and Drummond was remanded into custody.
Thanking the jury, the senior judge said: “It’s been a difficult case, I know, with a lot of distressing evidence for you to hear.”
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “The marks found on the body of little Jacob tell a heart-rending tale of cruelty dominating a life cut brutally short by Drummond’s cocaine-fuelled abuse.
“Jacob was utterly failed by those who should have been his protectors, and a child safeguarding practice review must leave no stone unturned in establishing whether more could have been done by agencies to protect him.
“We owe this little boy nothing less than a detailed investigation and a full explanation into the circumstances surrounding his tragic death.”
Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Jolley, from Scotland Yard, said: “No-one who has listened to the catalogue of injuries inflicted on Jacob Lennon can be anything but horrified.
“It is hard to comprehend how such a young and vulnerable baby could have been so abused.
“Drummond and Lennon sought to cover up their guilt by blaming accidents or feigning ignorance of how he was injured. However, a jury saw through their attempts to avoid the blame and found them both accountable for Jacob’s death.
“This case was very distressing and I would like to thank my team and all those who supported the prosecution for their professionalism and diligence. Everyone concerned has had to listen to some truly harrowing evidence, but we were determined to persevere and bring those responsible for Jacob’s death to justice.”
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