June 2021

Scots monster who killed newborn son and tried to blame baby’s mum jailed for 12 years

A dad who killed his seven-week-old baby boy has been caged for 12 years.

Brian Penn, 30, carried out the fatal attack on tiny Kaleb Penn at his home in Ayr on November 1, 2017.

He had pinned the blame on the boy’s mum Kelly Ann Cope.

Penn violently shook Kaleb and inflicted an unknown blunt force trauma on him.

The stricken child was found to have suffered a skull fracture, a bleed to the brain, a serious brain injury and fractured ribs.

Penn initially claimed to medics the boy had suffered a “choking episode” but he died two days later in hospital.

Penn was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow of culpable homicide and a separate charge of assault to Kaleb’s severe injury and danger of life.

He had originally been charged with murder and a further allegation of attempted murder.

Judge Lord Weir told Penn at today/yesterday’s sentencing that Penn inflicted wounds on a “vulnerable baby lost forever to his family forever.”

The judge added: “When Kaleb was born he could have expected without realising it the loving parental care and nurture so vital to such helpless infants.

“The jury were satisfied that you inflicted blunt force trauma injuries to his head and body to sufficient seriousness fractures appeared on an x-ray.

“The physical assaults you carried out were the antithesis for the care Kaleb looked to you for and his life was tragically cut short.”

Kaleb’s mum Kelly-Ann Cope, 31, told jurors in evidence Penn woke her up on the morning of his death asking her to phone 999.

Miss Cope said: “He said the wean wasn’t breathing. I was in bed and Kaleb was in his arms at the bedroom door.”

Prosecutor Erin Campbell asked how Kaleb was and she replied: “I put my hand on his heart and it was still beating but I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t breathing.

“His eyes were rolling to the back of his head.”

Miss Cope said she could not watch as mercy crews tended to Kaleb and rushed him to hospital.

It was put to Miss Cope that she knew about Kaleb choking on prune juice as she said it during the 999 call.

Miss Cope was asked how she knew and she replied: “Brian came in and I asked what happened and he said Kaleb choked on prune juice but I didn’t know more about it.”

She later added: “He said he patted his back and said he stiffened up, his body went flimsy then realised he wasn’t breathing.”

Miss Cope said she was beside Penn when he told medical staff that he dropped Kaleb on a changing mat weeks before.

It was also put to the mum that she told police in a statement that Kaleb had a bump on the back of his head.

Miss Cope said she had not known him to hit his head.

Miss Campbell asked: “Did you forget or deliberately not tell them?”

Miss Cope said: “I did forget as my head was discombobulated as my thoughts were to see my son.”

Miss Cope denied causing Kaleb’s injuries stating: “I wouldn’t harm anyone, I couldn’t kill a spider.”

Nurse Carol McNeill earlier told jurors that she spoke toPenn after Kaleb arrived at the hospital.

Mrs McNeill stated: “He said that he had been feeding the baby and there had been a choking episode.

“He (Kaleb) had vomited, but that it was not vomit.”

Consultant neuropathologist professor Colin Smith, 53, who examined Kaleb’s brain after his death, gave evidence at the trial.

He said: “[Kaleb’s injuries] are only seen in a setting of severe trauma, this is either a fall from a height or road traffic incident.”

Prof Smith also claimed there was evidence of previous bleeding to the brain dated seven to 10 days before Kaleb’s death.

He was then asked: “We may hear evidence that three weeks before his death, he may have been dropped from about 12 inches to the ground.

“Was a fall like that likely to have caused the injuries to the brain?”

Prof Smith replied: “It is possible.”

Miss Campbell asked: “Would it be clear the level of brain injury you identified in this case would have led Kaleb to be unresponsive?”

Prof Smith replied: “That’s my opinion.”