A mother who lost her newborn baby to a string of unthinkable and ‘sinister’ injuries is still waiting for answers six years after his death.
Michael Smedley was only five months old when he died following traumatic head under suspicious circumstances in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, in 2012.
An autopsy later revealed he had 26 bruises and cuts on his little body, damage to his anus, blood on his nappy, and had injuries consistent with ‘shaken baby syndrome’, when he died.
His mother Tayla Smedley – who was only 16 when her son died – has been forced to endure years of legal roadblocks including forensic inadequacies and the suspension of the lead detective in the case.
‘They [the DPP] keep saying there’s not enough evidence, but I don’t understand how much more evidence they need than what’s already been presented,’ Ms. Smedley told ABC.
‘I love my girls but it breaks my heart when they bring up Michael because I can’t tell them they will grow up without their older brother.’
The heartbroken mother had been unable to care for her son leading up to his death as she was ‘living in her car’ but said Michael was a happy baby.
‘He always smiled, he always laughed, there wasn’t really a sour bone in his body,’ she said.
Michael had been in the care of Ms. Smedley’s friend Tamara Cole and her partner Oliver Deighton who has been the only person of interest in the case in six long years.
Mr. Deighton was alone with Michael in the hours before the boy became unconscious, before Ms. Cole returned home to collect the child and take him to daycare.
He said he left Michael alone on a changing table while he went outside as a friend had come to collect a set of car keys.
Mr. Deighton said when he re-entered the room he saw Michael slide towards the edge of the table and topple over head first.
He said he caught the boy before he hit the ground but the baby began jerking and hiccupping.
An hour later when Mr. Deighton went to retrieve Michael after Ms. Cole came home he noticed the baby was not breathing and his body had become limp.
Michael was pronounced dead just after 4pm at Alice Springs Hospital – more than six hours after he slid off the changing table.
Hemorrhaging on Michael’s eyes and swelling on his brain are symptoms of shaken baby syndrome but blood was also found in his nappy and a swab appeared to show sperm, the inquest heard.
The inquest also found a CT brain scan was performed shortly before he was pronounced dead and a pediatrician was of the view Michael had been ‘shaken vigorously’.
A doctor at the time also described bruising found on the sole of Michael’s foot as ‘sinister’, the inquest heard.
Medical disagreement over the cause of Michael’s death sparked the coronial inquest but it did not result in much-needed closure for Ms. Smedley.
‘I want Michael to have justice, I want people to know that it wasn’t an accident, I want him to be remembered for all the right reasons and not all the wrong,’ Ms. Smedley told the publication.
Mr. Deighton was called to give evidence on the final day of the inquest in December 2016.
But he was withdrawn as a witness when he refused to answer questions, stating his responses might implicate him in Michael’s death, which he was entitled to do.
Mr. Deighton works as disability caretaker and was questioned by police but never charged.
It is believed he still lives in Alice Springs.
This article was originally published by DailyMail.com.
Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.