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Jury retires in murder trial of Broadstairs baby killer Lee Vernon

The jury has retired to consider whether a dad murdered his six-week-old baby.

Lee Vernon, 21, has told the court he "can't explain why" he caused the injuries to McKenzie Ellis in Broadstairs in July last year.

Lee Vernon is accused of murdering his six-week-old son, McKenzie Ellis
Lee Vernon is accused of murdering his six-week-old son, McKenzie Ellis

He has admitted manslaughter, and two counts of causing serious injury, but denies murder and two charges of inflicting GBH with intent.

Baby McKenzie died from a bleed on the brain at King's College Hospital in London, having suffered 18 breaks to his ribs and 10 elsewhere.

Prosecutors allege Vernon caused the fatal head injury by shaking the baby boy, but he claims it happened when he accidentally dropped McKenzie.

"I accept that I caused all the injuries which led to my son's death, but I can't explain why," he told Maidstone Crown Court.

"I did not intend to kill him or cause him any serious injuries.

The trial has been taking place at Maidstone Crown Court
The trial has been taking place at Maidstone Crown Court

Vernon - one of eight children - said he had been brought up in care after the break-up of his parents' marriage and therefore was reluctant to involve social services when his child was born.

The prosecution allege he "intentionally inflicted non-accidental injuries on his son", resulting in a fractured skull and the bleed on the brain.

McKenzie was taken to the QEQM Hospital on July 23 after collapsing at Vernon's home.

He was transferred to Kings College Hospital in London but never recovered and died three days later, aged just 47 days old.

The jury has been given an eight-page document showing computer-generated images of the injuries McKenzie suffered before his death.

The UK's only forensic bone expert, Professor David Mangham, says he believes they were caused deliberately.

"I panicked and I shook him. I don't really know why. Just to get a response out of him" - Lee Vernon

But Vernon claims he accidentally dropped the baby.

Weeping, he told how he had been drinking and smoking cannabis the night before the incident and woke feeling "grotty and tired".

He then picked up Mackenzie, saying: "I put him on the sofa and placed cushions around him while I boiled the kettle to make his bottle. I then returned.

"I had him, he was in the cradle position with my right arm. I then leaned down to reach to get the bottle."

It was then Vernon claimed the child fell.

"He kind of lost balance and fell onto sofa and then onto the ground," he said.

McKenzie Ellis died from a bleed on the brain at King's College Hospital. Stock image
McKenzie Ellis died from a bleed on the brain at King's College Hospital. Stock image

"He wasn't moving or anything. I presumed he was unconscious and his eyes were closed.

"I started panicking and picked him up. I put my arms under his armpits.

"I panicked and I shook him. I don't really know why. Just to get a response out of him."

Defence barrister Paul Mendelle QC asked Vernon: "Were you angry?

"Yes, at myself, because I didn't catch him," he replied.

"I then bounced him round on my lap and held him tight, probably too tight."

"I didn't want the hospital to think I had hurt him on purpose and social services would then have been contacted." - Lee Vernon

Mr Mendelle asked who had inflicted the baby's fractured bones.

Vernon wiped away the tears as he replied: "Me. I think so"

He denied it was intentional.

He said he then lied to his partner and told her that Mackenzie was just unresponsive.

"I did so because I was scared of what she might say," he said.

Police later examined his mobile phone and discovered someone had searched: "Have you ever hurt your child and had a meltdown?"

His barrister asked: "Who made that search on the Internet?"

Vernon replied: "Me. It was because of the marks on Mackenzie's legs."

The baby was later taken to hospital with Katrina and her parents.

But keen skateboarder and BMX enthusiast Vernon went to a show in Thanet instead.

He said he did not want the baby's bruises to be mentioned to doctors.

"I didn't want the hospital to think I had hurt him on purpose and social services would then have been contacted," he said.

Vernon broke down when he was asked by his barrister: "You acknowledge that your actions are wholly to blame for your son's death?"

Vernon answered: "Yes".

Mr Mendelle asked: "Was that something you have found easy come to terms with?

Vernon replied "no", but accepted he was wholly to blame.

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