Teenager found guilty of murdering a four-month-old baby by shaking him at Derbyshire house

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A teenager has been found guilty of murdering a four-month-old baby by shaking him at a house in Derbyshire.

Carl Alesbrook, 19, was found guilty of one count of murder and one count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent following a five-week trial.

The defendant was said to have shaken baby Elijah Shemwell on two occasions in the weeks before his death on January 5, 2022, causing brain damage.

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Addressing Alesbrook at Derby Crown Court this afternoon (Thursday) Mr Justice Jeremy Baker told him: “You have now been found guilty, among other things, of the murder of Elijah Shemwell.

Four-month-old Elijah Shemwell died on January 5, 2022 after suffering brain damageFour-month-old Elijah Shemwell died on January 5, 2022 after suffering brain damage
Four-month-old Elijah Shemwell died on January 5, 2022 after suffering brain damage

"As I’m sure it’s already been explained to you, there’s only one sentence that can be imposed for that – part of that will be a determination as to the minimum you will serve.

"That will be determined at the next hearing.”

Alesbrook, who was 16 at the time, was in a relationship and living on a part-time basis with Elijah’s mother India Shemwell, aged 21, however she remained “emotionally and sexually involved” with Lee Varney - the baby’s father.

Vanessa Marshall KC, prosecuting, told Alesbrook during his trial he had been “consumed with jealousy” and resorted to shaking the infant when “it all got too much”.

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A jury at Alesbrook’s Derby Crown Court trial heard how during a 999 call on January 2, Shemwell was told by a call handler to do chest compressions until paramedics arrived.

After being revived with adrenaline Elijah was rushed to the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. However nothing more could be done and on January 5, the baby’s life support was removed and he passed away.

Jurors were told how on January 2, 2022 Shemwell had left her address on Acorn Drive, Belper, at 9.27pm – leaving Alesbrook to care for Elijah.

A video taken when Shemwell returned showed Elijah taking “sharp intakes of breath”, indicative, evidence from Dr Sarah Dickson showed, of “grossly abnormal” breathing.

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Prosecutor Vanessa Marshall KC told the jury Elijah was in “relatively good health” apart from fractures he had already suffered before India Shemwell had gone out.

She said: “The prosecution case is during that time there was a causative event, the prosecution say the defendant must have shaken Elijah at some point while India was out.”

“During this hour the prosecution say the defendant likely lost his patience with Elijah for the last time.”

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Carl Alesbrook trial: Derbyshire teen “consumed” by jealousy before shaking baby...

Ms Marshall said Alesbrook had complained of toothache the same day which made him “irritable”.

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She said: "He was at the end of his tether with the baby repeatedly crying, no doubt from the pain of broken bones the defendant caused the night before, frustrated about where his shared girlfriend had gone at this time of the night.

"Whatever the reason, he shook Elijah for the last time shortly before India came back through the door that night.”

The court heard how at around 10pm the same night a neighbour who was outside smoking a cigarette saw Alesbrook through a window “swinging his arms around as if swimming or rowing a boat”.

Alesbrook had claimed during police interviews following his arrest that he had been asleep while Shemwell was out on the night of January 2.

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Ms Marshall added: “This tells us that the defendant was awake to the extent that he was swinging his arms around – in frustration maybe, we do not know.”

The jury heard how on New Year’s Day Alesbrook had asked his mother during a Facebook video call if it was “normal” for a four-month-old baby to stop crying and then “go floppy”.

Location data from Shemwell’s phone showed she had been out in Belper town centre around 45 minutes before the call was made.

Jurors were shown a video taken prior to January 2 in which Elijah could be seen “unresponsive” and “limp”.

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Speaking about events prior to the video being taken to friends, Shemwell described how her “friend”, Alesbrook had called her out of the shower as Elijah was “gasping”.

Ms Marshall said in the video Elijah showed signs of brain damage and it was likely he had suffered “abusive shaking” prior to becoming unresponsive.

At the start of the trial Ms Marshall said between mid-November 2021 and early January 2022, Elijah was left in Alesbrook’s care by Shemwell.

She said: “It is the prosecution’s case that this defendant shook Elijah on at least two occasions, resulting in symptoms of brain damage and bleeding to the brain - prior to a final shake on January 2 2022, which caused catastrophic head injuries and his death.”

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Jurors heard how during a 999 call on January 2, Shemwell was told by a call handler to do chest compressions until paramedics arrived.

After being revived with adrenaline Elijah was rushed to the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. However nothing more could be done and on January 5, the baby’s life support was removed and he passed away.

Alesbrook, of Upper Greenhill Gardens, Matlock, will be sentenced at a later date along with Elijah’s mother India Shemwell, who has already pleaded guilty to neglect and cruelty charges.