Joanne Peacock said, “I came out of the shower to find Charlie grey and lifeless, just breathing, in his father’s arms.”
Jamie was their son, aged 16 weeks. At the hospital, “they told us to prepare for the worst; that his injuries were equivalent to a high speed car accident.”
It turned out that Charlie had been shaken violently by his father, Paul Sykes, who was later jailed for four years for grievous bodily harm.
This incident in Huddersfield 12 years ago is typical of situations where wound-up parents lose control and shake their babies violently, sometimes causing death, often very severe disabilities.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children estimates that more than 230 infants were killed or injured over the past decade as a result of being shaken. The charity said it believed that number was only “the tip of the iceberg”.
Doctors liken the effects to boxing, except in boxing blows to the head come over a long period whereas shaken babies receive the equivalent bombardment in seconds.
Joanne Peacock said Charlie was left blind and with cerebral palsy. Today, she said, he is a joy to the family but he has restricted movement and will need lifelong care.
Research has shown that constant crying is the most likely trigger for baby-shaking and Dr Suzanne Smith has begun a campaign to help parents avoid losing control.
She said, “Not all parents realise that it’s normal for babies to increase their crying over their early life.”
The mums and dads feel guilty that they can’t stop it and so act in panic. “Our message is really simple,” she said.
“Infant crying is normal; it will stop, and it’s OK to walk away for a few minutes as long as your baby is safe.”
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British people surrendered more than half a million pounds a day to scammers and con artists during the first half of 2019, according to the banking industry body, UK Finance.
Online or by telephone, the scams are varied and persuasive.
A common ruse is the purchase scam, whereby people pay in advance for goods which they never receive, including holiday rentals, cars, phones or concert tickets.
Impersonation is another. This involves people transferring money to accounts in the belief that they are talking to their bank, or to the police, or utility companies while actually they are being manipulated by criminals.
Invoice scams occur when criminals intercept emails and convince victims to pay legitimate invoices into the wrong accounts, often claiming the bank details have changed.
There are also romance scams. These happen when account holders are persuaded to send money to people they have met online and believe they are in a relationship with.
A spokesperson for UK Finance said, “Not only does fraud have a devastating impact on victims, the money stolen goes to line the pockets of gangs involved in drugs, arms and human trafficking.”
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Rarely is British history and tradition more evident than in the time-honoured ceremonies marking a State Opening of Parliament in London.
Queen Elizabeth and her consort, Prince Philip, are driven in a gold carriage from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament, where the Queen reads a speech outlining the Prime Minister’s legislative programme for the forthcoming session.
Everything is meticulously planned, honed from many years of practice, nothing changes. Except this time, when the Queen delivered the 65th Parliamentary speech of her reign, she chose not to wear the Imperial State Crown.
Instead, while dressed in full ceremonial robes, she wore a lightweight diamond tiara while the crown rested on a table beside her.
It was a personal choice. The crown, encrusted with nearly 3,000 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 270 pearls, weighs about a kilo, too much for our 93-year-old monarch.
In a BBC documentary last year, the Queen said she found the crown unwieldy. Smiling, she explained, “You can’t look down to read the speech… because if you did, it would fall off – or your neck would break.”
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said the decision not to wear the crown was a “practical alterations” to the Queen’s schedule and “part and parcel of the monarch getting older”.
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It’s the question that never seems to go away: God or no God? Here is American comedian Woody Allen’s take on the big issue: “If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank.”
As for religious practice, a pastor said, “You need to join the Army of the Lord.” The young man replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord.”
Pastor: “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” The young man whispered, “I’m in the Secret Service.”