A man has been sentenced to 15 years after causing the death of his former girlfriend’s three-year-old son.
Kayden McGuinness, who was thought to have autism, was found dead at his family flat in Londonderry in September 2017.
He had 15 bruises on his scalp and died from swelling and bleeding of the brain.
Liam Whoriskey, 25, was convicted of manslaughter and cruelty to a child by a jury at the city’s crown court in October.
He was sentenced to 13 years for manslaughter and two years for cruelty to a child during an earlier “unprovoked assault”, to run consecutively.
Whoriskey will serve half his sentence in prison and half in the community under licence.
Judge Philip Babington said Whoriskey had subjected Kayden to a “battering”, shown by the number of separate injuries on his face and scalp and illustrated by the medical evidence.
The judge told the court: “There are few worse crimes than causing the death of a young child.”
Whoriskey was a former partner of Kayden’s mother and was looking after the vulnerable boy while his mother was away.
The judge said: “When one stands back from this case, as one has to, it is clear that it is an exceptional case of the utmost seriousness.
“The jury came to the conclusion that the defendant did something – only the defendant knows exactly what – that caused the death of Kayden – and the defendant then left him to die.
“He only summoned help when he himself woke up many hours later.
“The defendant was left to look after Kayden but, for reasons that are still not clear, caused his death.”
The judge said Kayden’s mother, Erin McLaughlin, and grandmother, Kathleen McGuinness, were devastated that they were not there to help him.
He added: “This court can only express its sympathy as any sentence imposed on the defendant pales into insignificance when contrasted with the fact that a very young child has died in this way.
“One can only hope that this trial brings some form of closure for the greater family circle and particularly his mother.”
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