'Computer addict killed baby' claim

A TEENAGE father who became irritable if he was interrupted while playing computer games killed one of his four-month-old twin sons and badly injured the other, it was alleged in court yesterday.

A TEENAGE father who became irritable if he was interrupted while playing computer games killed one of his four-month-old twin sons and badly injured the other, it was alleged in court yesterday.

James Tuffs, now 21, cared for Byron and Tyrese while his girlfriend Zoe O'Leary, now 18, looked after their young daughter, Aaliyah.

Prosecutor Oliver Sells, QC, told jurors during the first day of Tuffs' trial at Norwich Crown Court that in January 2004 doctors declared Byron dead after he was found "grey and floppy'' at the family home in Stowmarket.

Mr Sells said checks showed that the little boy had a fractured skull and two fractured ribs. Further tests then revealed that Tyrese had a fractured skull, multiple rib fractures, a fractured arm and fractures to both legs.

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He told the jury that medical experts said the injuries to the children could not have been accidental.

The young family lived at Hill Rise in Stowmarket and Mr Sells said: "These very extensive and serious injuries were caused... by this defendant. This defendant must, for whatever reason, have operated a persistent regime of cruelty.''

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Mr Sells said Tuffs and the boys lived downstairs while Miss O'Leary cared for Aaliyah, now two, upstairs.

He said: "He would look after the twins downstairs in the room where the sofa was. After changing them he spent a lot of time watching television, playing computer games late into the night.

"You will hear something about his moods - irritable if his computer games were interrupted, on occasion shouting. He would rather play on the computer than anything else.''

The court would hear that Tuffs had two computers and had a games console as a Christmas present, he said. He would love playing computer games and was keen to get one called "True Crimes".

Mr Sells went on to explain to the jury that on January 5 last year Tuffs had told Miss O'Leary that Tyrese had stopped breathing. Tuffs said he had given the baby mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The baby was taken to a nearby doctor's surgery where he was checked and found to be well. Less than three weeks later, Byron had been declared dead after being found in a similar condition.

Mr Sells said neither child had external injuries and the fractures had been revealed by X-ray examinations.

The court heard from a medical expert who told of the extent of the injuries suffered by the twins, who had fractures to their skulls, ribs and limbs.

Dr Stephen Chapman, a paediatric radiologist who works at Birmingham Children's Hospital, holds degrees in surgery and medicine.

He said: "Ribs on a young child are very soft and springy and to produce a rib fracture in a young child requires a considerable degree of force to make it break.

"I would expect a child to cry out and scream when a fracture was sustained. Tyrese would not have been able to use his arm, it would hurt, and he would cry and be distressed.

"Tyrese had a considerable number of fractures, many, many rib fractures, fractures to the left elbow, a complex skull fracture.''

Dr Chapman told the court that Tyrese suffered multiple injuries at different times on different parts of his young body, and they were consistent with injuries that were not accidental.

Mr Sells said Tuffs could offer no explanation for the injuries to either of the twins when he was questioned by police.

Tuffs had told police that Byron had suffocated while he was sleeping with the baby on a sofa.

Tuffs, who now lives at Forest Road, Onehouse near Stowmarket, denies manslaughter and cruelty to Byron and cruelty towards Tyrese.

The trial continues today.

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