Father who shook nine-week-old son to death in bath jailed for life

Father who shook his nine-week-old son to death and tried to claim the baby had died in the bath is jailed for life

  • A father who shook his 9-week old son to death in a bath has been jailed for life
  • Leon Mathias, 34, will serve a minimum term of 16 years behind bars

A ‘grotesque’ father who murdered his nine-week-old baby via a severe brain injury because he was ‘angry with his crying’ has been jailed for life. 

Leon Mathias, 34, will serve a minimum of 16 years behind bars after he was found guilty of the murder of son Hunter earlier this week at Sheffield Crown Court. 

Sentencing Mathias to life, Mrs Justice Lambert called his behaviour ‘nothing short of grotesque.’ 

During the sentencing hearing, the court had heard the distressing details of the case. 

After returning home from work on November 30 2018, Mathias got into the bath with his son while his partner Becky Higginbottom was socialising downstairs.

Leon Mathias, 34, has been told to expect a custodial sentence for his crime 

Hunter’s brain injury was so severe that staff at Barnsley District General Hospital were unable to save him

Mathias claimed that he had tried to save Hunter’s life after he suddenly stopped breathing in the bath. 

But during a four week trial, Robert Smith KC, prosecuting, argued tp the court that Mathias had murdered his son by shaking him, possibly after he had lost his temper with the baby’s bawling.

The damage Hunter suffered from being shaken meant he stopped breathing and lost consciousness.

But at the hospital, Mathias did not tell staff what had happened, and the hearing heard he told his partner to ‘shut up’ when she told a nurse Hunter had been smiling that morning.

Mrs Justice Lambert said: ‘Instead of trying to save your son by telling staff what had happened you chose to stay quiet. 

‘Your focus remained on your predicament and not Hunter’s.’

Tragically, Hunter’s brain injury was so severe, and his brain had swollen so significantly, hospital staff were unable to save him, and he later died on December 3, 2018.

A post mortem found that the child had suffered bleeding to his brain and behind his eyes, as well as three lower limb fractures.

One of these fractures was believed to have happened around the time of the head injury, with the other two occurring days earlier. 

Mr Smith went on to claim that experts believe these injuries were closely associated with the shaking of a child, the twisting of limbs or swinging a child by the legs. 

Speaking in Mathias’ mitigation, his defence said his intention to cause serious harm was only momentary with no pre-meditation, and that he was of previous good character, with a previously ‘loving relationship’ towards his family.

Mathias was sentenced to life at Sheffield Crown Court today

Sentencing Mathias to life with a minimum term of 16 years, Mrs Justice Lambert said: ‘We must all live with the consequences of our actions. You have expressed no remorse throughout this process.’

She added that Mathias snapped for ‘no good reason other than that you had had a hard day at work’ and that Hunter ‘should have been safe in your arms’.

Speaking after Mathias’ guilty verdict earlier this week, Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Mark Oughton said: ‘This has been a protracted and complex investigation and trial, and I welcome the decision reached by the jury today.

‘Mathias was first arrested by detectives on 5 December 2018 before being bailed and rearrested on Thursday 17 October 2019. He was later charged with Hunter’s murder and Section 18 assault on 1 February 2021.

‘He provided ‘no comment’ in interview.

‘We will never know exactly what happened during Hunter’s bath time on 30 November 2018; what we do know is that he suffered catastrophic injuries at the hands of his father. I am pleased justice has been served today.’

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