March 2022

Batley man jailed for son’s murder 21 years after attack

A man who suffocated his two-year-old son, leaving him with severe disabilities, has been jailed for his murder 21 years after the attack.

Abattoir manager Alan Bird, 48, inflicted permanent and irreparable brain damage after he smothered Lewis Turner at their home in Dewsbury in 2001, leaving him with a brain injury.

He was previously jailed in 2002 after admitting causing grievous bodily harm with intent but was later charged with murder after Lewis’ death in 2019.

Bird was jailed for life after being found guilty at Leeds Crown Court.

The court heard Lewis died aged 19 at his adoptive parents home in Leeds in July 2019.

Jurors heard how Lewis developed a “myriad of conditions” which included cerebral palsy as a result of Bird’s attack.

His speech, hearing and sight were impaired and he had to be fed through a tube.

The cause of death was given as peritonitis caused by an infection from his feeding tube.

During the trial the prosecution said he only needed the tube as a direct result of Bird attacking him, and that therefore he was criminally responsible for his death.

Bird was Lewis’ natural father, and he attacked his son on the night of September 29, 2001, when he was just two years old.

The attack took place at their home on Thorn Avenue, Dewsbury. Paramedics found Lewis covered in bruises and “deathly pale” when they were called to the property.

He was rushed to hospital where a scan revealed he had suffered the devastating injuries as a result of his brain being starved of oxygen.

Bird later admitted to a social worker that he was responsible for causing the injuries and had done so by holding a pillow over the child’s face for a few minutes.

Mr Wright told jurors at the start of the trial that it may be suggested during the trial that Lewis’ death was a result of medical negligence.

But a professor of gastrointestinal surgery – who conducted an independent investigation following Lewis’ death – found his NHS care to be “faultless”.

Justice Jacobs handed him down a life sentence, with a minimum eight-year term.

He also praised Lewis’s adoptive parents for the care they had given him throughout most of his life.

He said: “Lewis led what most people would regard as a terrible life. While that statement is true, it overlooks the fact that following his profound injuries he was cared for with a devotion that few could match.”

Bird, of Common Road, Batley, was told he must serve a minimum of eight years before being eligible for parole.