Couple found not guilty of killing son who had rickets

Have your say

A YOUNG couple walked free from court after being cleared of killing their four-month-old son who was suffering from rickets.

Rohan Wray, 22, and Chana Al-Alas, 19, of Islington, north London, fell under suspicion when baby Jayden died two years ago.

But, following a six-week trial at the Old Bailey, charges of murder and causing or allowing his death were dropped.

A jury returned not guilty verdicts on the direction of the judge after prosecutors withdrew the charges. The couple, who were 16 and 19 when Jayden was born, hugged and kissed when they learned that their ordeal was over.

The court heard that Jayden died from brain damage and swelling but nearly 60 medical, professional and expert witnesses were unable to agree the cause.

The prosecution said the brain damage could only have been caused by the trauma of Jayden having been shaken or his head hit against something.

But the defence said it was only after the baby’s death that it was discovered he had rickets owing to an undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency in his mother.

This would have caused him to have weak bones, including a weak skull, and could have caused a series of fractures.

The medical condition was also blamed for complications which led to his death.

Barristers for the couple argued that they had been loving parents and had not put a foot wrong with Jayden’s care.

They had taken him to see doctors and to hospital when worried about his health.

Medical staff and health visitors had not detected anything wrong with him.

But after he stopped taking his bottle in July 2009, they took him to hospital and he died after having seizures and being transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Judge Stephen Kramer said it was unsafe to let the case go before the jury. There was no evidence except the “triad” of head injuries which could be caused by shaken baby syndrome.

But no-one had been able to agree on whether the injuries were caused by trauma or medical complications.

Judge Kramer said: “The further and deeper one delves into the evidence, the more complex the evidence becomes.”

He added: “We could not have got to this stage without a proper investigation, examination and exploration of the evidence on all sides.”

Wray and Al-Alas denied having caused any injury to Jayden and the defence maintained that the seizures and fractures were linked to rickets.

Sally O’Neill QC, defending Wray, told jurors: “Jayden was indeed a much-loved and cared-for baby. Their care for him was transparently that of loving parents, even though they were young.”

She said that the couple had been “pre-judged” by doctors and police, but no-one had known how ill Jayden was.

Jenny Wiltshire, Al-Alas’s solicitor, said outside court: “Chana Al-Alas and Rohan Wray can now be allowed to grieve the tragic loss of their son who they loved and cherished.

“They have been through two and a half years of hell.”