No charges over death of Ballymena boy

Liam Bennett
Liam Bennett

Prosecutors have decided not to pursue the mother of a Co Antrim toddler who died after he was beaten about the head.

Liam Gonzalez Bennett, from Ballymena, was 20 months old when he died on February 8, 2009.

He had suffered 31 bruises to his head which pathologists said could have been caused by a clenched fist.

The boy’s mother, Samantha Bennett, and her former fiance, Noel McKeown, were questioned by detectives in a murder investigation, but no charges were brought. The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said the decision not to prosecute should stand.

Marianne O’Kane, a prosecutor at the PPS, said: “While it is clear that baby Liam’s death was as a result of non-accidental injury, the evidence available is not sufficient to establish the identity of the person or persons responsible for causing that injury.”

The coroner at the baby’s inquest had requested that the Director of Public Prosecutions look at the matter again and said it was disturbing that no one had been made amenable.

Ms O’Kane said: “This review, carried out in line with the code for prosecutors, has concluded that the original decision not to prosecute either or both of the persons reported should stand.

“There has been a thorough review of all the available evidence and information in this case, arising from both the police investigation into the death of baby Liam and following the conclusion of the inquest into the circumstances of his death.”

She added: “I assure the public that every care has been taken in this case. We have worked closely with police and the evidence has been exhaustively examined and reviewed by senior lawyers within the PPS.”