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Father who murdered his 39-day-old baby has sentence increased

James Dean Clark
James Dean Clark

A father who murdered his 39-day old baby will spend longer in prison after the Solicitor General, Alex Chalk QC MP referred his original sentence to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient.

James Dean Clark, 31, of Warmley, South Gloucestershire, inflicted injuries on his young baby, Sean Clark, which resulted in his death. On the morning of 14 January 2018, the child’s mother found the victim unresponsive in his cot.

A post-mortem examination concluded baby Sean had sustained a total of 74 fractures to his ribs which had been inflicted on at least three separate occasions. The injuries were consistent with the baby having been shaken violently shortly before his death. While some of the injuries were recent, there was evidence others were not and had begun to heal.

On 24 September, at Bristol Crown Court, Clark was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 15 years.

The Solicitor General, Alex Chalk QC MP, referred Clark’s sentence to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme.

Today (Friday 19 November) the Court of Appeal found his original sentence to be unduly lenient and increased it to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years.

Speaking after the hearing, the Solicitor General, Alex Chalk QC MP said: “This was a deeply upsetting and disturbing case, involving an extremely vulnerable victim. Clarke grossly abused his position of trust and his actions stole the life of an innocent child he should have been protecting. It is only right the sentence has been increased to reflect the severity of the crime.”

Det Supt James Riccio, the Senior Investigating Officer, who attended the Court of Appeal earlier today, said afterwards: “This increase in sentence better reflects the gravity of the heinous crime this man committed against his own 39-day-old son.

“It’s hard to put into words how devastating the loss of a child is, especially when it’s as a result of such a cold and callous act.

“Our thoughts are very much with all those who loved Sean and I hope they feel a greater sense of justice now the sentence against his murderer has been increased.”