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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Mark Brown and Craig McGlasson

Cumbrian man found guilty of murdering four-month-old baby son

Reece Kelly
Reece Kelly ‘was a ticking time bomb and intended to cause serious harm’, the court was told. Photograph: Cumbria Police

A man described as a “monster” and “ticking timebomb” has been found guilty of murdering his four-month-old baby son.

Jurors at Carlisle court heard that Dallas Kelly died from catastrophic injuries after being left in the care of his father, Reece Kelly.

Kelly, 31, of Workington, Cumbria, was described as someone who placed himself and his drug addiction before anything else.

“He was a ticking timebomb and he intended to cause really serious harm,” the prosecutor, Richard Littler KC, told the court. “His drug use, his financial worries, his emotional state, meant he was liable to explode into violence and he did just that.”

The trial heard Kelly was left in sole charge of Dallas after his partner, Georgia Wright, the boy’s mother, left their home in Workington and went to work shortly before 9am on 15 October 2021.

At 12.22pm, Kelly called 999 and paramedics were on the scene within minutes. They found Dallas lying on his back on the living room floor and initially performed basic first aid in an ambulance.

Dallas was in cardiac arrest, pale, blue, floppy and not breathing properly. He was taken to hospital in Whitehaven and transported to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria infirmary, where he died on 19 October.

For months, Kelly claimed he was not to blame for anything and was even called a “hero” by Wright, having attempted CPR. He admitted manslaughter on the first day of his trial but pleaded not guilty to murder.

During two weeks of evidence in front of a jury, details of Dallas’s catastrophic injuries emerged. A pathologist concluded the cause of death was a traumatic head injury. Later tests showed, the court heard, that Dallas suffered five rib fractures in the time period covering the alleged intentional shaking.

There were eye and spinal injuries, a brain bleed and fingertip-type bruises behind Dallas’s chest.

Medical experts concluded that Dallas’s devastating injuries were non-accidental with the likely cause being “forcible shaking”. They were injuries only ever seen in the context of a high level multistorey fall or fatal road crash, the court heard.

During the trial, Wright was asked what she thought of Kelly after he admitted unlawfully killing their child. She replied: “A monster.”

There were scores of illegally sourced prescription tablets and illicit substances in the house, the court heard.

Littler said Kelly was becoming “easily irritated” in the days before Dallas’s death and continued to pursue his drug addiction while his baby was in hospital.

“Up until the 19th [October],” said Littler of other texts recovered, “Reece Kelly, you will see, is continuing to score dugs, basically. He is continuing to meet people to obtain money for drugs, continue his drug lifestyle while Dallas is in hospital.

“Reece Kelly placed himself and his addiction before anything else, including his own child in hospital.”

Kelly was convicted of murder while Wright was found not guilty of a charge that alleged she caused or allowed Dallas’s death.

Both parents were convicted of cruelty to Dallas, who had not received adequate care, and had missed medical appointments and been exposed to harmful substances.

Sentencing was adjourned until 20 November with Wright granted bail. Kelly remains in custody and faces a life prison sentence.

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