July 2008

Evil father who murdered baby boy and attacked two other children jailed for 20 years 

A father who avoided prosecution for seriously injuring two babies in his care killed his 11-week-old son. 

Courtney Bryan, 29, lost his temper after being woken by Amaraye, who was crying. 

Sheffield Crown Court was told that he shook the baby violently, squeezed his ribs until they broke and ‘hurled’ him across the living room and into a wall. 

Following the assault, Bryan tried to ensure the dying infant did not see a doctor by lying about taking him to hospital. 

Yesterday he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years after a jury took 90 minutes to find him guilty of murder and the earlier incidents of cruelty towards two other babies. 

Mr Justice Henriques told Bryan he was a real danger to young children, branding him a ‘most callous, self-centred and unprincipled individual.’

‘No child should ever be permitted under the same roof as you again,’ he added. 

Authorities had not charged Bryan over the two assaults on four-month-old babies when he was interviewed by police from a different force seven years ago. 

He was questioned twice by detectives, before a decision was made not to prosecute. 

When South Yorkshire Police looked into Amaraye’s death last year the evidence from the earlier investigations was reviewed. 

Lawyers then decided that there was enough evidence to charge Bryan over the earlier attacks. 

In all three cases, the babies had been shaken within a few months of Bryan starting relationships with their mothers. 

He blamed the mothers, relatives or babysitters for the injuries

A review will look at the actions of social services and police to see if ‘lessons can be learnt.’

The court heard that Bryan began an affair with Amaraye’s mother Ginna Gobran in 2005 when she was 19 and he was 27.

She lived with her parents in Sheffield and he came up from Nottingham every week.

Bryan even insisted on the baby’s name when it was born in February 2007 and he became very possessive, said prosecutor Jeremy Baker, QC.

When Amaraye was six weeks old, Bryan slept with him overnight at the family’s home.

The next day the child had a small bruise on his upper lip, which Bryan blamed on the boy’s baby chair or bottle. 

A month later Bryan dismissed other signs of injury.

Bryan stayed with his girlfriend’s family again in May last year and was left in charge of Amaraye while the mother went out. When she returned Amaraye was pale and listless.

Bryan refused to let the boy be examined at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and took him to the park instead. 

But when the baby’s grandmother threatened to call the police Bryan persuaded Miss Gobran to say the injuries were caused accidentally in a fall when she was with him. 

Doctors found the boy seriously ill. Amaraye had a fractured skull, bleeding behind the eyes and broken ribs where his chest had been squeezed. 

Bryan later claimed the baby must have been hurt unintentionally when he swung him around in the garden.

It emerged Amaraye was the third tiny baby he had attacked.

Bryan had an affair with the mother of a four-month-old boy referred to in court as Child T when she was 16 and he was 20.

The baby was born in November 1998 and Bryan was left to look after the boy. 

The next day the Nottingham mother found bruising around the boy’s eyes and nose, but Bryan claimed the child had picked up the injuries after sleeping with him on the settee.

When the bruising worsened the boy was taken to hospital. Doctors found he had suffered internal bleeding around the brain and a broken left leg. There were also older shaking-type injuries from two to three weeks before.

He later made a complete recovery.

The other four-month-old boy referred to as Child M was born in August 1999 and Bryan began a relationship with the 18-year-old mother, also from Nottingham, when the boy was four months old.

Bryan, then 21, slept overnight with the child a month later while the mother was out and the boy fell ill.

The tot was taken to hospital and doctors found he had suffered bleeding to the brain and the back of the eyes, probably caused by shaking. Older injuries included broken ribs and a fractured leg.

The court heard he suffered irreversible brain damage and at the age of eight needed full-time care. Bryan had ‘truly,truly ruined his life.’

Nottinghamshire Police became involved and he was arrested in June 2001. 

He told police he accidentally rolled over on Child T while sleeping with the baby on a settee.

He was again interviewed by police in October 2001 and admitted caring for Child M on a couple of occasions but denied causing any injuries.

Mr Baker told the court that neither of the investigations seven years ago resulted in Bryan or anyone else being prosecuted over the injuries to the two babies. 

However, when South Yorkshire Police investigated Amaraye’s death the evidence was reviewed and he was successfully convicted of cruelty.

Miss Gobran, 21, said of Bryan in a victim impact statement:’That monster can spend the rest of his life behind bars but it will never bring him (Amaraye) back. I hope he never gets the chance to hold another baby again.’