Jonas Hankin QC secures conviction for murder in toddler death case

Tue, 23 Oct 2018

Jonas Hankin QC has successfully prosecuted drug dealer Raphael Kennedy for the murder of his two-year-old son Dylan Tiffin-Brown. The prosecution case was that the defendant had lost his temper and had punched and kicked his son, fracturing several of his ribs and rupturing his liver. He had then denied him timely medical attention, in the hope that he would recover without involving the authorities.  It was only when his son stopped breathing that the defendant had telephoned the emergency services. Tragically, by the time the ambulance arrived at the scene, Dylan had died. The prosecution also alleged that the defendant was responsible for older abusive rib fractures that were detected post mortem, as well as for exposing the child to illicit heroin, crack cocaine and MDMA, traces of which were found in hair and blood samples subsequently analysed by forensic and clinical scientists. 

The defendant denied being responsible for his son’s fatal injuries. He said he went out to sell drugs around 45 minutes before his son’s collapse, leaving him alone in his flat for around 20 minutes. When he returned, Dylan was subdued but he had no signs of external injury, so the defendant had no reason to be concerned. It was argued on his behalf that the onset of clinical shock would have masked the effects of the assault, by depressing the child’s level of consciousness and also his sensitivity to pain. When, 25 minutes later, his son began to lose consciousness, he rang an ambulance. He argued that his son must have been assaulted in a revenge attack by a rival drug dealer, against whom the defendant had recently given evidence in another trial. He denied being responsible for older rib fractures.

At trial, evidence from experts in bone pathology, brain pathology and paediatric histopathology proved that there had been a period of survival of at least two hours between the infliction of the child’s injuries and his death. This evidence of timing, in combination with expert evidence from consultants in paediatrics and radiology about the child’s likely clinical presentation during the survival period, proved that the defendant was the perpetrator and that he must have known that his son was very seriously injured long before he collapsed.

The jury took six hours to return the unanimous verdict following a three-week trial, before The Honourable Mrs Justice Carr.

Kennedy will be sentenced on October 30.

For more information on this case visit: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-45919681

Jonas Hankin QC is a member of the Crime Group at No5 Barristers’ Chambers. To view his profile visit: www.no5.com/barristers/barrister-details/459-jonas-hankin-qc/

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