Mom 'murdered her six week old baby boy by shaking him so hard that he suffered catastrophic head injuries

Mom 'murdered her six week old baby boy by shaking him so hard that he suffered catastrophic head injuries

Chelsea Cuthbertson, 28, called for an ambulance and said son Malakai Watts was not breathing - but doctors discovered his cardiac arrest was most likely allegedly caused by a 'non-accidental injury'.

He was rushed to hospital from her flat in Hythe, near Southampton, Hampshire 
Malakai was 'grey from head to toe' when police arrived at the two-bed flat
Today, Cuthbertson, who denies murder, appeared at Winchester Crown Court.

A mother murdered her six-week-old baby boy by shaking him so hard that he suffered catastrophic head injuries, a court heard today.

Chelsea Cuthbertson, 28, called for an ambulance and said son Malakai Watts was not breathing but doctors allegedly discovered his cardiac arrest was most likely caused by a 'non-accidental injury'.

He was rushed to hospital from her flat in Hythe, near Southampton, Hampshire, but tragically died four days later after he was taken off life support.

Malakai was 'grey from head to toe' when police arrived at the two-bed flat in February 2019, a jury was told.

Today, Cuthbertson, who denies murder, appeared at Winchester Crown Court where prosecutor Sally Howes QC explained the cause of death was recorded as 'head injury'.

Examinations also revealed that Malakai had suffered eight rib fractures.

Ms Howes QC said: 'He was born one of twins on 25 December 2018, the son of defendant Chelsea Cuthbertson and her partner Dell Watts.

'Following a cardio respiratory collapse on 2 February 2019, Malakai was taken by ambulance to Southampton General Hospital. Following an initial assessment he was placed on the paediatric intensive care unit.

'On 6 February 2019, following the decision to withdraw life support, he died. An extensive post mortem investigation identified findings consistent with traumatic head injury.

'The key mechanism was some form of shaking, possibly with some form of impact.

'The post mortem investigation also identified eight rib fractures, one of which is clearly older than all the others and therefore must have been sustained on an earlier occasion.'

Ms Howes told the court that post mortem investigations pointed to Malakai having been shaken while being squeezed.

A neuropathologist discovered several internal haemorrhages which were described as being commonly found following a 'shaking' incident.


She said the more recent rib fractures were consistent with 'forcible chest compressions' and were dated as happening three to six days before Malakai's death.

The older rib fracture, dated at seven to 12 days before his death, was described as 'unexplained' and 'suspicious'.

The court heard a doctor believed these were due to 'non-accidental injury', adding that CPR only causes rib fractures 5 per cent of the time.

Ms Howes added that the rib fractures, coupled with the other findings, 'all starts to dovetail in together' to suggest a shaking incident caused the injuries.

She told the jury the force needed to inflict these injuries would have been 'well in excess of a normal day to day play with the child, even during rough play'.

Ms Howes read a quote from the forensic pathologists report, which said: 'Malakai died as a result of a head injury sustained shortly before, if not coinciding with, his medical collapse and this was accompanied with a squeezing type injury to his chest.'

Malakai was taken off life support at 11.33am on February 6 and died at 1.48pm that afternoon.

His parents were both arrested for his attempted murder on February 2 while he was still alive in hospital. During his arrest, Mr Watts said: 'She hasn't hurt him, has she?'

The court heard Cuthbertson met Mr Watts in August 2014 and had a daughter together in February 2016, following which they moved into the flat in Hythe.

Ms Howes added: 'Both Chelsea Cuthbertson and Dell Watts were habitual users of cannabis and also took cocaine on a less frequent basis.'

She explained that Mr Watts moved out due to 'friction' in their 'on and off' relationship but returned home when the twins were born several weeks premature - having had an expected due date of February 5, 2019.

Malakai was born the smaller of the two twins but they were both discharged from hospital on January 9, 2019.

The prosecutor said that he had no ongoing medical conditions and health visitors who made home visits reported no concerns, although they did report a smell of cannabis in the flat, which Cuthbertson denied smoking.

Ms Howes explained that Mr Watts recalled being woken by Malakai 'crying' at about 3am on February 2, 2019, the day the ambulance was called.

She said: 'The twins slept in separate cribs next to the bed on the side that Miss Cuthbertson used.

'Approximately five minutes after being settled, Malakai started breathing quickly. He [Mr Watts] described it as being panting. He asked her if he was ok, she said he was fine. This continued for about ten minutes and then returned to normal.'

Ms Howes explained that the twins woke for their 4am feed and Mr Watts left the room several times to bring the bottles in after Cuthbertson said to him 'Oh, well there are f***ing two of them'.

She explained that Mr Watts 'could tell that Chelsea Cuthbertson was about to get angry and argumentative with him' so he went and slept on the sofa.

The next morning he left for work after peering through the door and hearing Cuthbertson 'snoring'. He did not check on the children before he left.

Cuthbertson called 999 at 9.30am to report her baby boy was not breathing.

Ms Howes described the paramedic arriving to find Cuthbertson giving CPR to Malakai on the floor of the bedroom with the older daughter 'distraught and crying' by the foot of the bed.

The court heard the paramedic described the baby as 'floppy' with 'pale' lips.

Another ambulance crew and a helicopter team arrived to assist and were able to get circulation flowing before he was transferred into an ambulance and sent to hospital.

Ms Howes said Malakai showed signs of internal bleeding which 'raised the possibility of non-accidental injury'.

The first police officer on scene spoke to Cuthbertson who told her that she had gone outside for five minutes to have a cigarette and that Malakai was not breathing when she came back.

The court heard that once at hospital Malakai had an emergency ultrasound and a CT scan which found 'catastrophic signs of brain injury'.

Ms Howes said it was the opinion of doctors his physical injuries meant non-accidental injury was 'the most likely cause of his cardiac arrest'.

Cuthbertson denies murder and the trial continues.
Mom 'murdered her six week old baby boy by shaking him so hard that he suffered catastrophic head injuries
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