Bid to quash 'shaken baby' conviction

PUBLISHED: 08:24 11 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:35 03 July 2010

A NORFOLK man who served six years in jail for killing his girlfriend's baby has begun a fresh battle to clear his name, after a television documentary cast doubt on shaken baby syndrome.

A NORFOLK man who served six years in jail for killing his girlfriend's baby has begun a fresh battle to clear his name, after a television documentary cast doubt on shaken baby syndrome.

BBC Panorama, broadcast last night, looked at new research which suggests the science behind the syndrome is flawed and that convictions involving the diagnosis may be unsafe.

Experts in the US claim there is “nothing to support” the belief that shaking a baby results in the three classic symptoms of brain damage, and bleeding to the retina and to the surface of the brain.

Raymond Rock, who has consistently protested his innocence, worked closely with the programme's producers and is now seeking expert opinion on the scientific evidence used to convict him.

The forklift driver from Yarmouth was jailed for life in 1999 for the murder of his girlfriend's 13-month-old daughter, Heidi.

His conviction was reduced to manslaughter in 2005 in a landmark case at the Court of Appeal and he was allowed to leave prison as he had already served six years.

The trial had heard Mr Rock was alone with Heidi in the Yarmouth home he shared with the baby's mother, Lisa Davis.

He was angered by her cries and shook her viciously, causing her brain to bleed.

Mr Rock, who has two children from a former marriage, has vehemently claimed that Heidi's death was a “terrible accident” and that he had dropped her while trying to comfort her.

He was deeply disappointed that he was not completely cleared in 2005, when three judges held that the mere presence of the three features of shaken baby syndrome did not automatically lead to a conclusion of unlawful killing or injury.

Mr Rock s understood to have moved away from Norfolk.

On his release from prison he gave a frank interview with John Sweeney, the reporter behind last night's documentary, which was published in the Guardian.

He said: “I will go to my grave saying this: there was no crime. I am innocent of murder or manslaughter. And I never, ever meant to do anything other than care for and love that child. And I have spent six years in prison as a child-killer for a crime that never was.”

His solicitor, Campbell Malone, agreed that the new research could help quash the manslaughter conviction.

“I can confirm that Raymond continues to maintain his innocence and that we have approached experts in the relevant fields on his behalf,” he said.

“We have been in regular contact with those involved in the making of this documentary.”

The programme revealed that the force exerted when a baby fell off a sofa on to its head was far more dangerous than shaking.

Biomechanic Dr Chris Van Ee, of Wayne State University in Detroit, said: “Shaken baby syndrome - as described as an adult shaking a child holding him by the torso with the head flopping resulting in bleeding of the brain and retinal haemorrhage - is fundamentally flawed from a biomechanics perspective. It's not valid. There's nothing to support it.”

The university will publish its work later this year.

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