Dylan Crean murder: Mother's partner jailed for life

Peter Cawser
Image caption Peter Cawser admitted murdering three-year-old Dylan Crean

A man has been jailed for life after attacking and killing a three-year-old boy in front of his mother.

Leicester Crown Court heard Dylan Crean died in hospital after being punched and kicked at his home near Swadlincote, Derbyshire in August 2011.

Peter Cawser, 22, of Edward Street, Albert Village, on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire, admitted murder was sentenced to life in prison.

Cawser must serve at least 18 years before being considered for parole.

Leicester Crown Court heard how Cawser inflicted more than 70 injuries on three-year-old Dylan in a "sustained and brutal attack" that took place in the child's bedroom.

Cawser "flipped out" and attacked Dylan, punching and kicking him, before turning on his girlfriend and the toddler's mother, Katie Crean, as she tried to protect her son, the court was told.

Catastrophic injury

Midway through the attack Cawser paused to close the windows of the family home so that neighbours could not hear Ms Crean's screams.

The court heard how Dylan was found by paramedics in an unresponsive state on the day of the attack, 30 August.

Doctors found he had suffered a catastrophic brain injury.

Image caption Dylan's mother Katie Crean said she tried to stop the attack on her son

Prosecutor Sally Howes QC told the court a paediatrician who had extensive experience had said he had "never seen such a sustained physical attack on a child".

Miss Howes told the court that in the days leading up to the attack, Cawser had been taking diazepam for recreational use.

Ms Crean said her boyfriend had been irritable but she had put that down to the stress of their recent house move.

Cries for help

On the day of the attack, Cawser returned home from work to find Ms Crean cleaning her bedroom while Dylan played in his.

Cawser asked Ms Crean to take a toy box into her son's bedroom but as she was busy, there was a delay and Cawser took it in himself.

"She heard the slam of the toy box as he threw it on the floor and heard him say to Dylan 'you're not going to be naughty again or start walking about and messing with things again, are you?'"

In Ms Crean's words, Cawser "flipped out" and she heard him say "you don't say OK to me".

She went into her son's room where she found him kneeling on the floor with Cawser in front of him shouting. He told her to take the toy box out and then smacked Dylan.

The court was told Ms Crean saw Cawser punch Dylan in the face, a blow which caused his "little face" to turn to the side with the force of it.

Cawser then went on to kick, slap and throw Dylan against the wall.

When Ms Crean tried to stop him, Cawser hit her and threw her down the stairs.

Miss Howes said: "Katie Crean heard Dylan crying, screaming and sobbing for her.

"In desperation she jumped on the defendant's back and told him 'he's had enough now, leave him alone, he's only a baby'."

Sentencing Cawser to life in prison, Judge Michael Pert QC said: "What happened was nothing in any part to do with the behaviour of Dylan or the behaviour of his mother.

"It was the vindictive and uncontrollable rage of an adult man against a three-year-old child.

"You embarked upon a sustained, brutal attack upon this young child."

Speaking outside the court, Ms Crean said: "I hate him. No, I don't hate him, I've got no feelings for him.

"I feel sorry for anyone who comes into contact with him, he doesn't deserve forgiveness."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites