Father of month-old baby who died from ‘snapped’ neck jailed for life

Michael Davis, 29, was ordered to serve a minimum term of 22 years for the ‘brutal’ murder of Ollie Davis.

Michael Davis has been convicted of murdering his five-week-old baby
Michael Davis has been convicted of murdering his five-week-old baby (Leicestershire Police/PA)

A father has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years for murdering his four-week-old baby, who was left to die from a broken neck after suffering 23 broken ribs.

Ollie Davis was pronounced dead after being found lifeless in his cot in October 2017, having also sustained fractures to his skull, collar bone, both arms and the joints of all his limbs.

Michael Davis, 29, was found guilty at Leicester Crown Court last month of murder and two counts of causing grievous bodily harm.

Kayleigh Driver and Michael Davis arriving at Leicester Crown Court
Kayleigh Driver and Michael Davis arriving at Leicester Crown Court (Matthew Cooper/PA)

Jurors cleared Ollie’s mother, Kayleigh Driver, of murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but found her guilty of charges of causing or allowing the death of a child and serious physical injury.

A safeguarding review partially published after the trial, compiled by the Leicester Safeguarding Children Partnership Board (LSCPB) in 2017, found “early opportunities to refer and assess (the family) were not taken” but that the abuse levelled against Ollie was “not foreseeable”, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) reported.

The LSCPB found “more could have been done to explore vulnerability and risk for this family” even though “some effort” had been made by agencies to address Ollie’s safety, according to the outlet.

The board said: “It is very clear that all the professionals who were involved with (Ollie) and his family worked to help his parents to care for him and to keep him safe.

“There was a strong commitment from staff and evidence of efforts being made to support the family. There were some procedural issues and systemic shortfalls identified but these would have not contributed to (Ollie’s) death.”

Leicester City Council said recommendations following on from the review have been implemented, the LDRS reported.

Sentencing Davis to a life term on Wednesday, Mr Justice Cotter said the murder of Ollie had involved a “devastating” fatal spinal injury inflicted up to eight days before death.

Driver, 31, was jailed for seven years after the judge accepted she did not cause any of her son’s injuries.

The judge told her: “You must have heard Ollie’s cries after he was assaulted, as you were together in the bedroom. This must have woken you up.”

Davis, who was living in Upper Temple Walk, Leicester, with Driver when Ollie was killed, was told he had shown “callous indifference” by opting not to summon medical help.

Ollie Davis
Ollie Davis (Leicestershire Police/PA)

The judge, sitting at Loughborough Court, said medical experts had confirmed that Ollie suffered 23 rib fractures and other injuries usually seen after a “high energy car crash”.

After saying he was sure that Davis had caused all the injuries during four separate overnight “episodes” of violence, Mr Justice Cotter added: “At least five different mechanisms were required to cause this terrible array of injuries.

“Michael Davis, I have no doubt that during the night you became frustrated and angry, and this led to terrible violence.

“You assaulted him on multiple occasions. The attacks in their various forms were also brutal – in particular the fatal neck injury.”

The prosecution of the couple was delayed by complex medical evidence and health issues suffered by Driver, who appeared for sentence on a mobility scooter due to a chronic neurological condition.

A two-month-trial was told Ollie suffered around 40 fractures, including breaks to his skull, collar bone, both arms, 23 rib fractures and breaks to the joints of all four limbs.

He also suffered a “snapped” neck and brain injuries during up to 10 days of abuse before his death, the court heard.

Ricky Driver, Ollie’s grandfather, said in a statement prepared for the sentencing hearing: “On the 21 October 2017 we were awaken to the sad news of Ollie’s sudden death and concluded that it was a probably a cot death. A day none of us will forget.

“After further examination by experts, we were horrified to find out there were suspicious circumstances regarding Ollie`s death.

“The police arrested Kayleigh and Michael for questioning – this shook the family to the core. Over time the injuries were made public, and we couldn’t believe what we were being told.

A custody image of Kayleigh Driver
A custody image of Kayleigh Driver (Leicestershire Police/PA)

“Ollie was perfect in every way when he was born. He had been beaten badly over time and was left to die with his injuries.

“This was our worst nightmare. How could anybody hurt a beautiful baby was beyond words.

“We felt sick to our stomachs, and we have shed many a tear thinking what Ollie went through in his final days.”

The statement described the actions which led to Ollie’s death as “evil” and also said the wider family had been “dragged through hell for nearly seven years, with all the lies and deceit.”

Speaking to reporters outside court, Davis’s mother, Paula Wright, said Ollie had been a “special little diamond” and “the sweetest boy you could ever meet.”

Claiming she believed her son had not caused Ollie’s injuries, Ms Wright added: “I think he’s innocent – he’s not even got a temper on him.”

Addressing reporters outside court, Detective Inspector Mark Parish said: “At the heart of this complex investigation has always been to try to get justice for Ollie.

“He was let down in the most horrendous ways imaginable.

“Due to the amount of injuries Ollie suffered, and the medical expertise needed to examine those injuries, it has taken more than six years for this investigation to come to court and for Ollie’s parents to be held accountable.”

Andrew Baxter, deputy chief crown prosecutor from the CPS said: “Rather than face up to their actions, both parents lied repeatedly about events, and have left it to a jury to determine the horrifying way they treated Ollie.

“Ollie’s death at such a young age came as a devastating shock to his extended family. Our thoughts and sympathies are with them.”