Meanwhile, someone, somewhere, is fasting for the same opportunity this woman so callously threw away…to be a mother. Hopefully the poor child is now blissfully at rest in a place where he can’t be hurt anymore.
- Rebecca Shuttleworth, 25, subjected son Keanu Williams to horrific abuse
- Shuttleworth waited up to 48 hours before calling emergency services
- Paramedics discovered the toddler‘s lifeless body at her boyfriend’s flat in Birmingham
- Partner Luke Southerton was cleared of murder but convicted of cruelty
- Injuries were not an ‘isolated event’ but the culmination of a long period of ill-treatment, court told
- ‘This is the worst case of child abuse I have ever seen’, says lead detective
- Toddler’s family say the murder has ‘left a gaping hole in our lives’
By TOM GARDNER
Rebecca Shuttleworth, 25, subjected Keanu Williams to horrific abuse, then left him to die before calling emergency services 48 hours later, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
The trial jury heard harrowing details of how the 37 injuries found on Keanu when he died were not an ‘isolated event’ but had been the culmination of a long period of torture.
Innocence: Keanu Williams beams at the camera in this family photo which gives no hint at the cruelty he would suffer at the hand of his evil mother Rebecca Shuttleworth
The toddler was found dead in January 2011 at the home of his mother’s boyfriend after an ambulance crew were called to the flat in Birmingham.
Rebecca Shuttleworth was convicted of Keanu’s murder at Birmingham Crown Court.
Her former partner Luke Southerton was cleared by the jury of murder, manslaughter and causing or allowing Keanu’s death, but convicted on one count of cruelty.
Detective chief inspector Caroline Marsh of West Midlands Police described Shuttleworth as ‘a monster’ for the harm she inflicted on the toddler.
Speaking moments after the jury returned its verdict, she said: ‘This is the worst case of child abuse I have ever seen.
‘The officers who have been working on this case have been shocked by the total abuse suffered.’
Callous: Rebecca Shuttleworth, left, was convicted of murdering her son, two, after a long period of torture, while her former partner Luke Southerton, right, was cleared of murder but convicted of cruelty
She added that child had also suffered two life-threatening injuries – a fractured skull and abdominal injuries – either of which was capable of killing him.
The toddler’s aunt Angela Shuttleworth, 26, spoke of how the family had been ‘torn apart’ by the murder committed by her sister. She added that it had left ‘a gaping hole in our lives’.
Keanu Williams’ family has been ‘torn apart’ by his death, according to his aunt.
Angela Shuttleworth, 26, Rebecca Shuttleworth’s sister, said the death of the toddler who was known in the family as Kiwi had left ‘a gaping hole in our lives’.
In a statement she said: ‘Keanu was an amazing little boy who had developed a real personality.
‘He was full of life and loved playing with his siblings and cousins. He enjoyed all his toys and would empty the toy box every time he came to play, but he especially loved Iggle Piggle from (children’s television programme) In The Night Garden .
‘Kiwi also loved food – he ate everything and was hungry all the time.’
She added: ‘Since the tragic death of Kiwi, we haven’t been able to grieve or say goodbye to him properly.
‘The whole family has been torn apart by this and his death has left a gaping hole in our lives.
‘We hope now this is over we can lay Kiwi to rest and begin to have some closure.’
Shuttleworth closed her eyes briefly, bit her lip, looked upwards and shook her head after the jury found her guilty of murder and four counts of child cruelty.
A six-month trial was told that Keanu was pronounced dead on January 9, 2011, after paramedics arrived at Southerton’s flat in Old Moat Way, Ward End.
Southerton, 32, and 25-year-old Shuttleworth, formerly of Hay Mills, Birmingham, had both denied any involvement in Keanu’s death.
The toddler’s lifeless body was found by paramedics after Southerton dialled 999, claiming the boy had stopped breathing, was pale and had not been well.
Although fatal injuries had been inflicted on the boy up to 48 hours earlier, Shuttleworth did not seek medical help before the 999 call was made at 7.42pm on January 9.
It is thought Keanu, known to his family as ‘Kiwi’, suffered his fatal injuries after arriving with his mother to stay at Southerton’s flat on January 7.
At the start of the trial, prosecutor Christopher Hotten QC told the jury Keanu’s injuries were not an ‘isolated event’ but had been the culmination of a long period of ill-treatment.
Mr Hotten claimed the fact that Shuttleworth had not sought help for Keanu ‘until it was too late’ was potent evidence that she knew his injuries were ‘incapable of sensible explanation’.
The majority of the bruising found by pathologists was to Keanu’s lower chest and abdomen, but there were also areas of bruising to the head and back.
A post-mortem examination also identified ‘tramline’ bruising consistent with Keanu having been struck with an object such as a stick or rod with some force.
A fist-sized tear was also found in part of Keanu’s abdomen, which had caused substantial bleeding.
Shuttleworth, who faces a mandatory life sentence, was remanded in custody and will be sentenced alongside Southerton, who remains on bail, at the same court tomorrow.
Explaining his decision not to pass sentence immediately, trial judge Mr Justice Spencer said: “In a case of this kind, careful thought needs to be given to the sentencing of the defendants – a period of reflection is always a good idea.”
Both defendants were on bail throughout their trial, which began in January and heard evidence from more than 70 witnesses.
Southerton, whose barrister said he would be seeking a non-custodial sentence, was convicted of one aspect of one count of child cruelty but unanimously acquitted of all the other charges he faced.
Speaking outside the court building, Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Marsh, who led the inquiry, said: ‘Whilst we have seen justice done, it does not change the fact that Keanu has lost his life in heart-breaking circumstances.
‘My sympathy rests with the friends and family he left behind.’
Describing the case as extremely tragic, the detective went on: ‘The investigation team have all worked extremely hard to find their way through the last two years.
‘It’s extremely difficult to understand how someone could do that to their own child.
‘Rebecca Shuttleworth is clearly somebody who is not like a normal member of society. In the past, I have described her as a monster and perhaps I would stand by that.’
A serious case review into the death is expected to publish its findings in the near future.
Asked whether more could have been done by agencies involved with Shuttleworth to protect Keanu, Ms Marsh replied: ‘Everyone will have their own view on whether anything else could have been done.
‘Perhaps the answer to that question will be in the serious case review.’
Describing the youngster’s injuries as ‘horrendous and horrific’, the senior officer told reporters: ‘The investigators who worked on this case have been shocked by the extent of cruelty inflicted on Keanu.
‘He suffered at the hand of his mother, who should have loved him unconditionally.
‘To do the type of things that she has done to Keanu is just unthinkable.’