Life for 'video monster' who killed toddler

An "evil monster" who filmed shocking video clips as he abused a screaming 15-month-old boy has been jailed for life for his murder.

Darren Newton appeared a loving father figure to Charlie Hunt, the son of his partner Laura Chapman, but hid his "dark and wicked side".

The 32-year-old took pleasure in slapping and hitting Charlie whenever left alone with the child, filming the attacks on his mobile phone and keeping the clips for his own enjoyment, Manchester Crown Court heard.

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Jurors and court staff were left visibly shocked as Charlie's screams and cries rang out when the clips were played of Newton abusing the sobbing child.

The factory worker gave the clips titles, including "Crying, no toys in pen, ahhhh", "Squeezing toe in cot", "Two minutes of pain" and "Shivering no water", taken on a November night when Charlie was naked in an empty bath.

In one graphic clip, titled "Happy Slap", filmed two weeks before Charlie died, and a precursor to the fatal attack, Newton is seen to slap the child 13 times on the head as he screams and cries.

Newton, from Earby, Lancs, had admitted 12 counts of child cruelty caught on camera and found by police after his arrest.

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Following the three-week trial a jury found him guilty of murder and one count of child cruelty.

The jury, which spent just 40 minutes deliberating, cleared him on a further count of child cruelty.

Charlie's parents have branded Newton "evil" and a "monster".

Newton sat expressionless, staring blankly ahead, as the guilty verdict was returned.

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Charlie's mother had split with the boy's father and met Newton in early 2009, after moving in next door to him, where he lived with his parents in Earby.

She thought Newton, who has no previous convictions, a quiet, caring and loving man, good with Charlie though "protective" over his mobile phone.

The attacks began last June, when Charlie was barely a year old, with Newton gradually hitting the child harder and harder, until his death six months later.

On November 19 last year, Newton finished his shift at a local factory and was home at 2.30pm. Three hours later Charlie was dead.

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Rushed to Airedale Hospital, West Yorkshire, after collapsing at home, doctors noticed bruises on his right eyelid, right cheek and right big toe. Newton's mother went in the ambulance with Charlie and after calling Ms Chapman to tell her to go to the hospital, Newton went off to play snooker.

A post-mortem examination found the repeated slaps to Charlie's head had caused extensive bleeding to his retina and brain, swelling to the brain and deep bruising to the top of the head.

Jailing Newton for life, with a minimum term of 24 years before parole, Mr Justice Stephen Irwin told him: "It was spiteful and cruel behaviour.

"It was also inexplicable to any normal way of thinking."

The judge also ordered the video clips be preserved so the parole board can watch them before he is eventually considered for release.

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