Father cleared of baby son killing

A FATHER cleared of killing his baby son has criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for taking more than 20 months to end his "distressing and traumatic" ordeal.

By Richard Smith

A FATHER cleared of killing his baby son has criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for taking more than 20 months to end his "distressing and traumatic" ordeal.

Stephen Watts, 35, was told yesterdaythat no evidence was being offered on a charge of the manslaughter of his nine-week-old son, Cameron.

Mr Watts, of New Road, Trimley St Mary, near Felixstowe, was first arrested in November 2002 – four days before Cameron's death in hospital.

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But deputy High Court Judge Sir John Blofield entered a not guilty verdict at Norwich Crown Court after prosecutor Denis Barry told him: "It appears no-one could be certain what the cause of death was."

The judge expressed concern over the length of time it had taken the CPS to come to the decision and said he was anxious that someone had such a charge "hanging over their heads for a very long time".

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After the hearing, Mr Watts' solicitor David Stewart said: "This has been very distressing and traumatic for him as it has been 20 months since his son Cameron died. He is very relieved that the case is over.

"He is disappointed it has taken the prosecution authorities so long to reach their decision not to proceed, but is relieved. He has at last established his innocence."

Relatives of Mr Watts, who is formerly of Stowmarket, also attended the short court hearing but the family declined to comment yesterday.

Cameron died on November 22, 2002, in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, 10 days after he was admitted.

Mr Watts was first arrested on November 18. He was charged in June last year and appeared at Norwich Crown Court in September 2003. His trial was originally set for February this year.

Following the hearing, Chris Yule, chief crown prosecutor, said: "The review of all criminal cases continues after a person has been charged.

"The Crown Prosecution Service accepted this case for prosecution on the basis of expert medical evidence contained within the file prepared after the police investigation.

"Once the Crown was made aware by the defence of a second medical examination it acted quickly to get further expert opinion.

"The expert's final report was received on July 26 and after being carefully considered, has led the Crown to the view that there is now no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. Accordingly, no evidence was offered in the case against Stephen Watts on Friday, July 30.

"CPS Suffolk has worked hard to deal with this case in the fastest possible time while still allowing correct and detailed evidence to be gathered.

"In any case involving a fatality, especially one concerning the death of an infant, CPS Suffolk is acutely aware of the impact that this will have on the people involved, it is also equally aware of its commitment to the victim. In cases, which involve such complex medical evidence, there is always a possibility that a development can alter the evidence supporting a case, proving the value of keeping cases under constant review."

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