Jonas Hankin KC prosecutes woman convicted and sentenced for the manslaughter of her severely autistic stepson.

Fri, 17 Mar 2023

Leila Borrington was found guilty of the Manslaughter of 3-year-old Harvey Borrington, following a trial lasting 8 weeks before the Hon. Mr Justice Nicklin and a jury at Nottingham Crown Court. The defendant was also convicted of additional offences of inflicting grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm upon the same child several weeks prior to the fatal assault.

Harvey died from a space-occupying subdural haemorrhage. The prosecution case was that this fatal injury had been caused by a severe inflicted impact that also accounted for a complex skull fracture and retinal and optic nerve injuries that Harvey was found to have sustained when he was admitted to hospital in a state of collapse. It was argued on the defendant’s behalf that Harvey had sustained all of his injuries in an accidental fall backwards from a sofa when playing; alternatively, that the subdural haemorrhage had been caused by another member of the household some hours prior to collapse and that, following a lucid interval during which Harvey was asymptomatic, he had collapsed while playing, sustaining a skull fracture and eye injuries in the process.

The case was evidentially complex. Causation and timing of the injuries were in issue. In particular, an issue was raised as to whether Harvey may have had a medical condition known as external hydrocephalus (excess cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain) which, if it was present, would have made him more susceptible to suffering subdural haemorrhage and may also have allowed a subdural haemorrhage to have accumulated for some hours before a point was reached when Harvey collapsed. Experts in 9 areas of paediatric clinical medicine and pathology were called.

By their verdicts, the jury rejected the defendant’s account of an accidental fall, as well as the ‘alternative theory’ of an earlier assault (for which the defendant was not responsible) followed by a lucid interval. 

The defendant has today been sentenced to 15 year’s imprisonment. 

Jonas Hankin KC was instructed by East Midlands CPS. 


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