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Mother has sentence for child cruelty increased following death of toddler son

Mother has sentence for child cruelty increased following death of toddler son

A mother jailed for child cruelty after her drug-user boyfriend murdered her toddler son has had her sentence increased.

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas upped the "unduly lenient" 20-month jail term imposed in the case of Chloe Thomas, 25, of Tonypandy, south Wales, to 30 months.

Her son Finley was aged 17 months when he died in 2014 after suffering a fractured skull and broken ribs.

Thomas's partner Sean Buckley, who claimed the child had suffered accidental injuries, was originally jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years after being convicted of murder.

But Lord Thomas, sitting with two other judges at the Court of Appeal in London on Wednesday, agreed with submissions made on behalf of Solicitor General Robert Buckland that Buckley's minimum term was also unduly lenient.

The three judges ruled that Buckley, now 29, should serve a minimum term of 20 years.

Thomas and Buckley both watched the proceedings via video link.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Buckley smashed a garden chair against the head of the defenceless toddler.

Lord Thomas said it was clear from the evidence that "in the period of at least four weeks prior to the death, Buckley had subjected the child to serious injury".

He pointed out that the trial judge was satisfied Buckley had not intended to kill.

Lord Thomas ruled that when the 17-year minimum term was imposed, the judge "did not pay sufficient regard to the period over which the violence had occurred".

In the case of Thomas, who pleaded guilty to child cruelty, he said the trial judge found she had been a devoted mother until forming a relationship with Buckley, that she was under his "controlling influence", and had not committed any violence herself towards her son.

Announcing the decision to increase her sentence, Lord Thomas said: "Bearing in mind the gravity of matters of which Chloe Thomas was aware, her part in not bringing matters to the attention of the authorities, her conduct on the last day of Finley's life in not explaining what had happened and in helping to conceal it, we consider that a very serious course of conduct was not properly represented in the sentence of 20 months."

He added: "Twenty months was unduly lenient in that it did not properly reflect the gravity of her wilful neglect in all the circumstances..."

Speaking after the hearing, the Solicitor General said: "Finley was a very vulnerable young boy who relied on these offenders to protect him.

"I referred this case to the Court of Appeal as I did not think the seriousness of the offending was adequately reflected by their original sentences. I am glad the court thought it necessary for them to spend longer in jail."