A MUM-of-five has been found guilty of manslaughter after shaking her six-week-old baby to death.
Chelsea Cuthbertson, 28, denied shaking Malakai Watts despite doctors concluding the tragic infant suffered a cardiac arrest which was most likely caused by a “non-accidental injury”
Malakai was “grey from head to toe” when police arrived at Cuthbertson’s flat following her 999 call on February 2, 2019.
He was rushed from the property in Hythe, near Southampton, Hants, to Southampton General Hospital but tragically died four days later after he was taken off life support.
Jurors were told he died from a traumatic head injury and an examination showed he had several other injuries, including eight fractured ribs, with at least one being from a previous incident.
Giving evidence, Cuthbertson insisted she never hurt Malakai but had no explanation for his injuries – claiming she had gone outside to smoke a cannabis joint for 15 minutes and returned to find that her baby boy had turned blue.
But today, following a five-week trial at Winchester Crown Court, Hants, Cuthbertson was convicted of manslaughter and now faces a jail sentence.
Jurors delivered a majority verdict after 13 hours and 57 minutes of deliberation. The jury had unanimously decided she was not guilty of murder.
Cuthbertson had one child from a previous relationship and then met car valet Dell Watts, who was the father of Malakai, his twin, and two other children.
Sally Howes QC, prosecuting, told jurors there was an ‘escalating resentment’ in the couple’s ‘love-hate’ relationship which was evident in text messages Cuthbertson had sent to Mr Watts.
She said Cuthbertson was frustrated with Mr Watts because she felt he did not help around the house and with the children, particularly when he returned to work shortly after Malakai was born.
Some of those text messages were read out in court by Ms Howes, with Cuthbertson writing ‘I’m sick of doing everything and being in all the time’, ‘my home isn’t a hotel and it’s just going back to when you lived here before’ and ‘people make time for their family, you never do’.
Her resentment and anger reached such a point that morning that she took it out on Malakai
Ms Howes QC
Ms Howes QC added: “These texts indicated an escalating resentment towards Dell Watts.”
The couple argued the night before Malakai stopped breathing and in the morning shortly before Cuthbertson called for an ambulance, it was heard.
Ms Howes QC said: “Her resentment and anger reached such a point that morning that she took it out on Malakai, squeezing him around the chest, shaking him and then causing an impact to his head.
“Her intention at that time must have been to cause him harm even if the catalyst was to take out her resentment on him.”
Cuthbertson told the court she went outside to smoke cannabis before coming back in to wake the twins for their morning feed and finding Malakai blue in the face.
She said she went outside and shut the door while she smoked the cannabis for about 15 minutes but believed she would have been able to hear the babies if they cried.
When she went back in she said she saw ‘straight away’ that Malakai’s face was blue, picked him up and called 999.
It felt like a lifetime
She was instructed how to give Christmas Day baby Malakai CPR over the phone by the call handler.
Cuthbertson said: “I was distraught. I have never seen a child blue before. I have never given CPR to anyone let alone a baby.
“That whole day was just crazy, that morning when I had to do the CPR. It felt like a lifetime.”
She previously told the court she would smoke cannabis every day because ‘it chills me out’.
Despite admitting the drug ‘mongs you out’ she continued to smoke regularly while caring for her eldest daughter as well as Malakai and his twin.
Before Malakai’s death, Cuthbertson sent texts complaining she was ‘sick’ of being in all the time with her kids and that her baby was ‘whingey’ and ‘hard work.’
In a text to her friend five days before the baby was injured, Cuthbertson said: “(Malakai) is so whingey, definitely hard work but (the other twin) is easy – I would cry if they were both like it.”
The court heard this text was sent on January 28 2019 – around the same time that the post-mortem report showed Malakai suffered a rib injury.
In one text to Mr Watts, Cuthbertson described another of her children as ‘a little cow’ and a ‘little shit.’
It read: “(The child) might have a bruise on her cheek tomorrow – the little cow took my glitter eye shadow.
“I went to take her to her bedroom but the little shit was all slippy so I dropped her and she fell on her face but on her cheek side.”
The court heard Cuthbertson had previously given evidence to a Family Court that she felt abandoned, exploited and left alone with the children.
She also spoke openly about assaulting her first born child when he was just six months old.
She admitted pushing down on his forehead ‘so he stopped crying’, so hard it left a red mark and he had to be taken to hospital.
She described how she did not tell anyone what happened at first and claimed the red mark on her son’s forehead was caused by a toy dropping on his head.
When she came clean about the incident she was diagnosed with post-natal depression and was dealt with by way of a community resolution.
Cuthbertson will be sentenced for manslaughter on July 22 at Winchester Crown Court.
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