A NEWTOWNABBEY woman whose baby was brutally murdered by her former boyfriend has said she’ll “never, ever forgive” him for killing her son.
Sheree Black jumped up in delight last Wednesday (February 16) as guilty verdicts were announced two-and-a-half years after her baby boy, Cameron Jay Leslie, died after he was subjected to a brutal attack.
Cameron was just 14 weeks old when he died in hospital on September 6, 2008. He had suffered severe injuries to several parts of his body, including his head, ribs and legs.
On Wednesday, after a trial which lasted several weeks, the jury at Belfast Crown Court found his father, 26-year-old Ryan Leslie, guilty of murder and causing grievous bodily harm.
The judge told Leslie, of Ballyvesey Green in New Mossley, that he had “brutalised and murdered” his son.
“Your defence was based on the propositions that you were a victim wrongly accused and also a grieving father who deserved sympathy. But the truth is you brutalised and murdered a 14-week-old baby - your son. And for that I sentence you to life imprisonment,” he said.
Flanked by her mother and a large crowd of relatives and friends outside the court, Miss Black said that while the guilty verdicts would “never bring Cameron back”, she was delighted with the outcome of the trial.
“I cannot even describe how I feel. I’m absolutely over the moon. That jury and judge have been absolutely brilliant over the past six weeks.”
Fighting back tears, she added: “There will always be a hole in my heart for Cameron. I can’t even imagine what Cameron would be doing now. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think of him.
“I will never, ever forgive Ryan Leslie for what he has done and I will never, ever forget it.”
In a statement given earlier, Leslie’s father Billy defended his son, saying: “He doted on Cameron, he worshipped him. He has always said he was innocent. From day one he has always said he did nothing at all to the child.”
The officer in charge of the investigation into Cameron’s murder said the conviction “sends out a clear message” to violent individuals.
Detective Superintendent Jonathan Roberts commented: “Our thoughts at this time are firstly with Cameron. It is a tragedy that his young life was ended so brutally by the one person who should have been his protector.
“There are no winners in this case and the detectives involved in the investigation into Cameron’s death would like to extend their sympathy to the entire family circle. They have a heavy loss to bear.
“From a professional perspective, it is gratifying that we have been able to secure a murder conviction in a type of case where convictions for less serious offences are often more prevalent.
“This conviction sends out a clear message to those individuals who carry out violent attacks in a domestic situation that police will bring all their experience, expertise and professionalism to ensure they are brought before the courts.”
Leslie was given a mandatory life sentence for his crimes, but the exact tariff will be set at a hearing on March 18.
Meanwhile, following the guilty verdict, some New Mossley residents expressed their feelings by spraying graffiti condemning Leslie on the wall of the block of flats where he used to live, and at other locations around the estate.