Jul 30 2009 By Adrian Short, Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News
A JURY at Chester Crown Court has found Wayne Davenport guilty of causing the death of two-year-old Joshua Jones.
Josh’s mother, Nicola Bowman, has been found guilty of allowing her child to be harmed.
Josh died on November 6, 2007, while in the care of his mum’s partner, Wayne Davenport.
Bowman had gone out for a drink around 9.15pm knowingly leaving her child in the care of someone she knew he was scared of, who she recognised as physically chastising her son too harshly on many previous occasions, who had a background of violence, and who was said to be smoking cannabis.
At 22.25pm that night Davenport called for an ambulance as Josh was limp and lifeless, but despite ambulance staff arriving quickly at the scene and attempting resuscitation, Josh was effectively already dead when they arrived.
Josh’s post mortem revealed a list of potentially suspicious injuries, including three separate bruises to his thighs, three bruises to his knees, scratches to his ankle, three marks on his back, a bruise to his arm, a broken arm, and two rib fractures.
The boy also had a human bite marks on his arm, the teeth marks of which exactly matched Davenport’s teeth.
Davenport alleged he had bitten the toddler in order to revive him when he found him limp in his bed, an explanation which Michael Chambers, prosecuting counsel highlighted as a most unlikely form of resuscitation.
An emerging bruise to his head and swelling of the brain, suggested Josh had been struck with considerable force, or had his head struck forcefully against a surface.
It was the swelling to the toddler’s brain which resulted in his death, and a number of medical experts provided detailed evidence in court which demonstrated both the significant impact required to deliver the injury, and the fact that it could not have been accidentally inflicted or caused by the toddler himself.
Davenport, 26, was charged with the manslaughter of Josh, and found guilty today, Thursday, July 30, by the jury.
A week before his death, on Friday October 26, 2007, Josh was taken to Warrington Hospital by his mum, Nicola Bowman, who told hospital staff that Joshua’s arm appeared limp.
After examination, it was found that Joshua had broken his arm.
Medical staff also noticed bruising on the child, and alerted police and social services.
Josh was detained in hospital for six days while the authorities sought an explanation for his arm injury.
The prosecution stated that during this time Nicola Bowman colluded with her family to form an explanation for her son’s injuries to prevent the authorities stopping him from going home with her.
John Deane, Josh’s grandfather, explained that he had caused the fracture to Joshua’s arm by lifting him by the wrists in play, but medical experts providing evidence at court firmly discounted this as being responsible for Joshua’s broken arm.
Bowman also described a lively child who bruised easily.
She went so far as to text Josh’s dad, Jason Jones, and tell him not to mention if asked the two black eyes he had previously seen Joshua with.
She also lied about the nature of her relationship with Davenport, saying that it was in its infancy, that he did not live with her and had no unsupervised access to the child.
On Thursday, November 1, Josh was discharged from hospital into his mother’s care with the agreement that he would not be left unsupervised with Davenport.
Five days later after leaving her son alone with Davenport, Josh died a violent death at his hands.
Bowman was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of her child, under Section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.
It is the first time that the recently introduced legislation has been used in Cheshire.
The person Josh looked to for protection, the person whom he cried and called for at night, the person whom he toddled around after at home - following her while she did her household chores until chastised by Davenport for doing so - was the very person who turned a blind eye to the systematic abuse her child was subject to.
She gave different accounts to Josh’s dad, Jason, and then after his death to the police, for how Joshua had received first one black eye, and then another during September.
She described how Josh cried when she left the room and he was alone with Davenport, and then how she allowed Davenport to smack the child to stop the crying, causing noticeable red marks to Joshua’s hands.
She recognised that Josh was complying with Davenport’s demands not because he was an effective disciplinarian, but because he was scared, saying in an interview with police "It was working cos Joshua was scared of him."
Davenport and Bowman were convicted after a seven week trial at Chester Crown Court, and will be sentenced at a later date.
Davenport was remanded in custody pending sentence, and Bowman released on conditional bail.
Speaking after the verdict, Detective Inspector Helen Spooner of the Cheshire Constabulary Major Investigation Team (MIT), said: "This was a difficult and extremely harrowing investigation.
"The death of any child is distressing, but in this case Joshua was allowed to die at the hands of somebody he feared, somebody who had hurt him before, while his mum took no action to protect him– indeed she ignored and covered up the injuries to her child, lying to the authorities and to Joshua’s own dad to protect herself and her partner, Davenport.
"The catalogue of injuries inflicted on the toddler reduced members of the court to tears when recounted by medical experts, yet his mum turned a blind eye as her son suffered at the hands of a violent man.
"They will both live with the consequences of their actions for the rest of their lives.
"The criminal investigation into Joshua’s death was carried out meticulously and with professionalism by a small team of officers from the Cheshire Constabulary Major Investigation Team, resulting in today’s convictions, and ensuring justice for Joshua and those who loved him."