Rebecca Shuttleworth will serve a minimum of 18 years for murdering her son (West Midlands Police)
Rebecca Shuttleworth will serve a minimum of 18 years for murdering her son (West Midlands Police)

A mother who killed her two-year-old son after months of cruelty and beatings has been handed a life sentence.

Rebecca Shuttleworth, 25, of Manchester, will serve a minimum of 18 years in prison for killing her son Keanu Williams. The sentence followed a five-month trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Shuttleworth, formerly of Hay Mills, Birmingham, was also convicted of four counts of child cruelty.

Keanu, known as Kiwi, died after he was found unconscious at a flat in Ward End in January 2011. A post-mortem revealed a total of 37 separate injuries and burns to his body.

The court heard how the toddler had suffered a fractured skull and an abdominal injury to his bowel - either one of which was potentially fatal – during the "brutal and sustained attack".

He had also sustained extensive bruises to his stomach, back and legs as well as burns to his foot. West Midlands Police described the case as one of the worst examples of child abuse they had seen.

Shuttleworth's partner, Luke Southerton, 32, received a nine-month sentence, suspended for two years, for one count of child cruelty for biting the arm of the toddler. He was previously cleared of his murder.

Mr Justice Spencer told Shuttleworth: "The jury have convicted you of the brutal murder of your two-year-old son.

"He was a defenceless child and it was your duty to protect him. Instead you beat him so severely he died a lingering death from his injuries a day or so later.

"You have also been convicted of cruelty by failing to summon the medical aid he so badly needed.

"One can scarcely imagine the pain and distress Keanu must have suffered from this outburst of violence.

"He must have been terrified, it must have been clear to you as soon as the violence had taken place that Keanu was badly in need of medical attention."

Det Chief Insp Caroline Marsh, of West Midlands Police, said: "Whilst we have today seen justice done, it does not change the tragic fact that an innocent two-year-old boy has lost his life in heartbreaking circumstances.

"I hope that Keanu's family can now lay him to rest and try to have some closure."

The chair of Birmingham's safeguarding children board, Jane Held, added: "It is already clear there are lessons to learn from how various agencies worked together to support Keanu and his family.

"It is clear from this trial that professionals in the different agencies involved missed a significant number of opportunities to intervene and take action."