Sunday, 11 December 2011


A FACTORY worker who tormented, abused and finally murdered a helpless baby will serve at least 24 years behind bars.

On the 2nd December 2010, Darren Newton was to sentenced life imprisonment, Mr Justice Stephen Irwin said the months of cruelty inflicted on 15-month-old Charlie Hunt were ‘inexplicable’.

Newton filmed himself on his mobile phone repeatedly slapping, prodding and kicking the child while babysitting.

Eventually the blond youngster’s tiny body gave out and he collapsed and died as a result of serious brain injuries.

Following his death a serious case review was launched jointly by Lancashire and Bradford Safeguarding Children Board.

Charlie had spent the first six months of his life being monitored by social services but was not classed as ‘at risk’ at the time of his death.

Mr Justice Irwin told Newton: “Anyone who watches the video clips of some of what you did, and I am convinced you recorded only some of what you did, will genuinely struggle to understand why you came to do this.

“Eventually you killed him. It was a futile and wasteful death of an innocent toddler.

“Part of the wickedness of what you did was a complete contrast between the sympathetic and affectionate picture you presented to the outside world, to your own family and to Charlie’s mother, and the truth of how you behaved to him when you had him on your own.

“You deceived her and everyone. She will regret being deceived for the rest of her life.”

Charlie was being looked after by Newton, his mother Laura Chapman’s boyfriend, when he suddenly collapsed.

Paramedics rushed the baby to Airedale Hospital after resuscitation attempts by Newton’s parents, Ernest and Joan, who lived next door, failed. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Home Office pathologist Dr Philip Lumb ruled that Charlie had suffered brain injuries which had been caused by ‘considerable force’.

Newton denied hitting Charlie on the day of his death, insisting he had appeared happy and content before he fell ill.

But checks of his mobile phone revealed a series of horrific video clips of the 15-month-old being tormented and abused, between June and November that year.

Under titles like ‘happy slap’, ‘2 minutes of pain’, and ‘no toys in pen ah’, Newton could be seen cuffing, prodding and even kicking Charlie, from behind the camera.

Charlie’s mother, who had moved to Earby from Bradford, was never present while the abuse took place.

Charlie's heartbroken mum has said she hopes Darren Newton “rots in hell”.

Laura Chapman, 30, speaking alongside Charlie’s dad Richard Hunt, 44, said her 15-month-old son had been her “everything”.

The couple, who split up when Charlie was four months old, said they had been devastated to find out that Newton had abused their son over a number of months.

Laura said: "I didn't have any suspicions about what he was doing, I was in complete shock when I found out.

“I was hysterical when I had to watch the videos - I was disgusted.

“It was extremely difficult to watch them, to see someone you love that much get hurt by someone that you trusted.

"I entrusted him with the care of the one main thing in my life and for him to do that is a betrayal of my son, myself and everything I know.

"A lot of people were asking did I know, or surely I must have known, but no I didn't.

"If I'd have known, he would never have been left with Darren - Darren wouldn't have been walking.”

Laura said that after Charlie died she and Newton were questioned by police investigating what happened to her son.

She said: "I was arrested and was horrified at first. But then I realised that the police had a job to do.”

She said that after being bailed, Darren had seemed a bit upset, “but not like other people grieve”.

"We had to go back in and I was sat in a police cell when they told me about the videos,” she said.

“I didn't believe it could be Darren at first. I actually had to watch them to believe it was him.

"I hate him, I hope he rots in hell.

Laura said she could not understand why Newton had attacked her son.

She said: "I don't know why he did it, it's been going through my head.

"He always knew that I would put Charlie first before anything else. That's the only thing that I can think of.

"In court, he said that Charlie was my entire world.

"I was quite surprised he told the truth to be honest, but he's right. He was my everything.

"Charlie was an angel. He was always very happy, he loved to play and he was a good eater and a good sleeper.

"Any mother would love to been mother of that little boy.

Laura said that before she left on the day Charlie died she had played with him and his babysitter.

Later Newton took over babysitting duties.

She said: “Darren was a bit nervous when he first started to look after him - obviously he'd had experience with his nephew and nieces, but he'd never been in a position when he had looked after a baby that young.

"When I first left Charlie with Darren it was short periods at first, to make sure that Charlie was ok with him - that he was happy with him being around.

"In court he said he resented looking after him, but I asked him every single time.

That afternoon Newton phoned Laura to say Charlie had been taken ill.

She said: "Darren said that Charlie basically had had another fit and that I needed to get to the hospital - the paramedics were downstairs with Charlie working on him.

"I was panicking just to get to the hospital.

"I went to A&E and I was taken through to a family room and Darren's mum was there crying.

"She kept saying to me I'm sorry - I tried to resuscitate him.

"Then a doctor came in, he said about resuscitation and then it is all a blur. He had died before I even got to him.”

Laura said the court case and giving evidence had been extremely difficult.

She said: "I want Darren to go down for a long time for what he has done. I want him to get locked up for life.

"There were times when I felt like I was on trial but I knew it was going to be difficult, I knew it had to be done.

"He is evil and twisted, for what he did to Charlie and for putting everyone through this.

Charlie's dad Richard Hunt said: "Newton is just an evil individual and he deserves what he gets.
"Like Laura said, I hope he gets locked away for a long time.

"I didn't know anything was going on, if I did I would have stopped it, I would have done something about it.

"When I heard about the videos I felt numb thinking what sick animal would do something like that.

"I just can't get my head around it, why somebody would do that? Why somebody like him would do this to a 15-month-old boy who can't protect himself?

"I had to walk out of court. I couldn't handle hearing my boy crying like that.

"He was crying for help and there was no-one there to help him.

Mr Hunt said he would never get over his son’s death.

He said: “He was a cheeky little monkey, always laughing with a cheeky smile. That's how I want to remember him.”

After the verdict Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “I was appalled and angered when I first heard the details of toddler Charlie Hunt’s death.

"We owe it to Charlie to thoroughly investigate if his death could have been prevented and also what wider lessons we can learn from this tragic incident.”

A joint statement from Nigel Burke, independent chair of Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board, and Professor Nick Frost, independent chair of Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Shortly after this child’s tragic death, we commissioned a serious case review (SCR).

“Such reviews should be undertaken when a child dies and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor, to enable the professionals to look at their involvement and learn from the case.

"As part of the review, a detailed action plan was developed which is already being implemented by the agencies involved.

"The SCR has now been completed and assessed by Ofsted. It will be published in due course.”

The judge ordered that video clips should be preserved and considered by any parole board considering Newton’s release.