HERALD COMMENT: A simple, unanswerable question
HOW could they? That's the question all decent people in this city will be asking today about Christopher and Charlotte Sheldon.
This vile couple thrashed their baby son with something like a length of flex and squeezed his tiny body so hard that his ribs broke.
By the time little Ethan was just four months old he also had a range of other bruises and broken bones.
The fact that this couple could cause these injuries beggars belief but then they failed to get him treatment. When their violence was uncovered by a health visitor they each denied any knowledge of the injuries and then blamed each other.
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A jury has seen through their lies and they have been told it is inevitable they will be sent to prison. That sentence cannot start soon enough or last long enough - their crimes are obscene and are an affront to us all.
It is noteworthy that this shocking case may never have come to court but for a recent change in the law. The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act which came into force last year allowed the prosecution to take place without having to demonstrate how each specific injury occurred.
The former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said the new law closed a 'terrible loophole' which allowed abusers like the Sheldons to evade justice.
Credit must be given to campaign groups like the NSPCC and to the painstaking work of politicians to have brought about this important change in the law.
However, despite yesterday's verdict and the clear intention to punish the Sheldons, the sad truth is that the their' greatest crime is yet to come. Ethan is a child who, like all children, deserves the love and care of his parents. He will undoubtedly receive care and we must all hope that he will be offered the love of a foster family or adoptive parents. But the day will come when he will be told what his birth parents did to him and on that day, if true justice were to be served, the Sheldons should have to answer for their crimes all over again.
And on that day Ethan will ask that simple, unanswerable question: How could they?