Father jailed for killing baby son

A VIOLENT father who battered his four-week-old baby son to death in a fit of rage because he wouldn't stop crying has been jailed for a minimum of 18 years.

Jane Hunt

A VIOLENT father who battered his four-week-old baby son to death in a fit of rage because he wouldn't stop crying has been jailed for a minimum of 18 years.

Little Luigi Askew died of head and abdominal injuries after 32-year-old Duncan Mills told the child's mother: “I'm going to shut him up. I cannot stand this crying.”

Shortly afterwards Samantha Askew, who was bleeding from the head after being viciously assaulted by Mills, heard “smacking” noises followed by the sound of someone being knocked against a radiator, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

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The baby boy, who lived with Miss Askew in Lanercost Way, Ipswich, died despite frantic efforts by neighbours and paramedics to revive him.

Mills, of London Road, Ipswich, denied murdering Luigi on May 26 last year but was found guilty by a jury in February. He was also convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Miss Askew, 23.

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Sentence was adjourned until yesterday for a psychiatric report.

Sentencing Mills to a mandatory life sentence and ordering him to serve a minimum of 18 years, less 419 days he has spent in custody, Judge John Devaux said Mills had abused his position of trust as his father.

He said that prior to the attack on Luigi, Mills had subjected Miss Askew to a sustained course of violence during which he punched and kicked her, hit her with a hammer, fracturing her wrist, threw a wine bottle at her and hit her with a “knuckle duster”.

Judge Devaux said it was hardly surprising that Luigi hadn't settled and had cried most of the night. “Eventually you went to shut him up. Well, you shut him up for good,” he said.

He said a psychiatric report showed he was not suffering from any mental illness. However, Mills had been a heavy cannabis user since the age of 16 and, in the months prior to Luigi's death, Mills had developed a heavy cocaine habit and was taking ecstasy. “It isn't clear if your drug taking contributed to the offences. It may well be that it did,” he said.

The judge accepted that Mills had not intended to kill Luigi and said the prosecution had put its case on the basis that Mills had intended to cause him really serious harm.

Judge Devaux said Mills had a history of violence to women and in 2002 had been jailed for two years for inflicting grievous bodily harm on a former partner who suffered fractured ribs and bruising to her face and body during an attack by him.

He described Mills as “jealous and controlling” and said he sought to dominate women by violence and threats which resulted in them in being too frightened to contact the police.

Judge Devaux banned Mills indefinitely from working with children and passed a concurrent sentence for public protection for the attack on Miss Askew.

Joanna Greenberg, for Mills, said although there was a substantial history of violence by him to Miss Askew there was no evidence that he had ever been violent to Luigi prior to the day in question. She described what Mills did to Luigi as a “momentary loss of temper”.

After the hearing, Detective Inspector Stuart McCallum, of Suffolk police, described Mills as a “very dangerous man” and said: “I am satisfied that Mills won't be in a position to hurt or injure anyone else for a considerable period of time.”

Rosalind Turner, Suffolk County Council's director for children and young people said: “The murder of Luigi was a terrible and tragic waste of a child's life. Our thoughts go out to his family. Sadly this death could not have been predicted or prevented by the agencies involved.”

Following the tragedy, the Suffolk Safeguarding Children Board carried out an independent review of the case and made a total of 33 recommendations to a host of agencies, including the county council, in a bid to prevent any other children from suffering the same fate as Luigi.

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