September 2023

Folkestone man caught on camera choking youngster convicted of child cruelty at Canterbury Crown Court

A man who was convicted of choking a child after he was secretly caught on camera grasping them around the neck told police he was tickling them.

The youngster was left with three haemorrhage marks following the incident in June last year which a doctor later concluded “spoke of strangulation”.

Steven Liddle, from Folkestone, was also surreptitiously filmed holding the victim tightly and covering their mouth with his hand, and twice “jumping” up and down while the child lay on the floor being “squeezed” between Liddle’s feet.

The image and phone clips, in which the prosecution said the child could be seen and heard to be in distress, were played during the 43-year-old’s trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

The witness who made the recording later told police they saw the youngster’s face turning red while being held around the neck, and that Liddle stopped after a couple of seconds when he suspected he was being filmed.

But Liddle maintained following his arrest that he had not strangled the child or meant “any malice”.

He claimed he had also been told the person responsible for the footage was “a compulsive liar”.

Liddle, of Pelham Gardens, denied one offence of child cruelty but was convicted on Monday on an 11 to one majority verdict after jury deliberations lasting just under seven hours.

Sentencing was adjourned until November 3 but the judge, Recorder Amy Nicholson, warned Liddle he faces jail.

Requesting a probation report, she told him: “It would be helpful to know a little bit more about you and your personal circumstances before I reach a decision on sentence.

“You must understand all sentencing options are open to the court but I will bear in mind your previous good character.”

At the start of his trial, prosecutor James Ross told the court the photo showed “some form of choking or interference with the neck.”

“Mr Liddle’s hands are grasping around the child’s neck, causing at the very least discomfort and maybe something not conducive to their good health,” added Mr Ross.

The image was forwarded to police and when the victim was later examined, three “linear” marks measuring between one-and-a-half and three centimetres could be seen on the right side of the neck.

Paediatrician Dr Elza Samuilova told the court: “Children often have bruises, scratches, everywhere on the body but those three linear haemorrhages were very concerning. They speak about strangulation. They are usually caused by strangulation.”

Surrounding them were very small, “pin-prick” marks usually caused when pressure is applied and blood vessels burst, she added.