A man has been sentenced to 15 years’ jail for causing the death of a three-year-old boy with suspected autism.
Kayden McGuinness suffered 15 bruises on his scalp and died from swelling and bleeding of the brain after he was subjected to a “battering”, a judge said.
He was found dead in bed at his family’s flat in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in September 2017.
Liam Whoriskey, 25, was convicted of manslaughter and cruelty to a child by a jury at the city’s crown court in October.
He will serve half his sentence in prison and half in the community under licence and has never shown any remorse and little empathy with the devastation caused to Kayden’s family.
Judge Philip Babington said: “There are few worse crimes than causing the death of a young child.”
Whoriskey was a former partner of Kayden’s mother and was looking after the vulnerable boy while she was away visiting her family.
The judge said: “When one stands back from this case, as one has to, it is clear that it is an exceptional case of the utmost seriousness.”
The child died from blunt force trauma and probation officers said Whoriskey, from Glenabbey Gardens, posed a significant risk to other members of the public.
His former partner said he was aggressive and violent. He has six previous convictions involving “domestic-type offending” and an assault.
The judge said: “The jury came to the conclusion that the defendant did something – only the defendant knows exactly what – that caused the death of Kayden – and the defendant then left him to die.
“He only summoned help when he himself woke up many hours later.
“The defendant was left to look after Kayden but, for reasons that are still not clear, caused his death.”
Whoriskey was sentenced to 13 years for manslaughter and two years for cruelty to a child, to run consecutively.
The judge said the child had been assaulted by the defendant a number of weeks prior to his death and had displayed aggressive behaviour towards him , as shown by CCTV footage and oral evidence concerning the day of his death.
Kayden’s mother, Erin McLaughlin, and grandmother, Kathleen McGuinness, were devastated that they were not there to help him.
He added: “This court can only express its sympathy as any sentence imposed on the defendant pales into insignificance when contrasted with the fact that a very young child has died in this way.
“One can only hope that this trial brings some form of closure for the greater family circle and particularly his mother.”
The judge said Whoriskey subjected Kayden to a “battering”, shown by the number of separate injuries on his face and scalp.
The youngster’s family were in court for the sentencing on Monday.
Whoriskey was led away in handcuffs and gave no visible reaction.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective inspector Peter McKenna said: “Throughout this investigation Whoriskey has shown no remorse for what he did.
“He knew that this three-year-old child, already vulnerable by his age and with some communication difficulties, would never be able to tell what happened to him, had he even survived.”
When questioned Whoriskey denied causing the injuries.
The detective said: “It clearly did not weigh on his mind or on his conscience that his actions had taken the life of this three-year-old child.”
When his mother put Kayden to bed she gave him three little kisses and told him how much she loved him, DI McKenna added.