Mother guilty of child cruelty after baby son killed by her boyfriend

Mother, 25, is found guilty of child cruelty after failing to protect her 18-month-old son who was beaten to death by her boyfriend

  • Mother faces jail for failing to protect baby son from boyfriend who killed him
  • Tamika Beaton, 25, found guilty of cruelty to a person under the age of 16
  • She turned blind eye to the abuse by her partner and ‘put own interests first’
  • Beaton cheated on both her son’s father and her boyfriend with various men
  • Scott Coombe, 24, previously admitted manslaughter of toddler Andrew Cawker
  • Judge Mark Lucraft said he will sentence Coombe and Beaton on 18 November 

The mother of an 18-month-old boy was today found guilty of child cruelty and warned she faces jail after failing to protect her son before he was killed by her boyfriend.

Tamika Beaton, 25, turned a blind eye to the sickening abuse inflicted on her toddler Andrew Cawker by Scott Coombe, 24, in the months leading up to his death.

Beaton denied but was found guilty by a jury on Monday of cruelty to a person under the age of 16 between 7 January and 9 July 2019. She put ‘her own interests’ before those of her son with ‘catastrophic’ consequences, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.

Andrew suffered a head injury on 9 July 2019 and died in hospital 13 days later.

Postman Coombe, of Petts Wood, Kent, often attacked the boy who had bruises and scars all over his body but Beaton did nothing and blamed the boy’s biological father Ben Cawker.

After Coombe killed Andrew he called 999 and claimed ‘he started looking a bit stiff and then he collapsed in front of me and he’s not woken up for 10 to 15 minutes’ but in court this was found to be a lie.  

Coombe earlier admitted killing Andrew by grabbing him and throwing him to the floor. He admitted manslaughter, child cruelty and assaulting the toddler on three occasions between 7 January and 9 July 2019.

Beaton had refused to explain in court what had happened but jurors heard she had cheated on both the boy’s father and her boyfriend with various men.

Tamika Beaton (previously pictured outside the Old Bailey) ‘did nothing’ about her son being repeatedly assaulted by her partner Scott Coombe, the court has heard

A pathologist who carried out the post-mortem of 18-month-old Andrew Cawker (pictured) found scars and bruises all over his body

Step-father Coombe (left), 24, previously admitted killing 18-month-old Andrew Cawker – pictured here with Beaton

The Recorder of London, Judge Mark Lucraft said he will sentence Coombe and Beaton on 18 November after reports are prepared. 

Coombe called the emergency services on 9 July and told the operator: ‘It’s my one and a half year old step son.

‘He was just playing then he started looking a bit stiff and then he collapsed in front of me and he’s not woken up for 10 to 15 minutes.’

Sally O’Neill, prosecuting, said: ‘This was a lie. Scott Coombe has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

‘He has done so on the basis that he became irritated with him and picked him up by grabbing his upper arms and in a moment of anger and frustration, shook him vigorously backwards and forwards briefly and then threw him backwards.

‘Andrew’s shoulder area hit the floor and his head fell back and bounced as it hit the floor.

‘Andrew immediately became unconscious and Scott Coombe tried to revive him, was unable to do so, which was when he called 999.’

Mr Cawker (right) was left worried when he found bruises and marks on his son Andrew who was in the care of his mother Beaton (left)

The prosecutor said: ‘It was apparent to Tamika Beaton that Andrew was receiving unexplained injuries whilst in Scott Coombe’s care.

‘She and Andrew’s father, Ben Cawker, who saw him regularly, took photos of the injuries and even on one occasion, took him to the doctors for his blood to be tested in case he was prone to easy bruising. He wasn’t.

‘His bruises were as a result of being assaulted by Scott Coombe and it must have been obvious to Tamika Beaton that it was Scott Coombe who was doing it.

‘Not only did she do nothing to protect Andrew from being injured by Scott Coombe, she tried to cover up the injuries by blaming Ben Cawker, his father, for causing them.

‘There are many texts in this case which the Crown say illustrate her knowledge of what was going on and her deliberate refusal to tell Social Services about it because she knew that if she did, the result would be that either Scott Coombe would have to leave the home or Andrew would be taken into care.

‘She was putting her own interests before those of Andrew with the most catastrophic consequences for Andrew.

‘The injuries caused to him by Scott Coombe on 9 July 2019 were so severe that he never regained consciousness and died from his injuries on 22 July 2019.

‘On the night this happened, she had gone to a dance class, leaving Scott Coombe in charge…knowing that he had done a full day’s work as a postman.

‘He was willing to look after [him] but the risks of allowing him to do so must have been obvious to this defendant and she chose to disregard them as she had done on a number of previous occasions.’

Beaton (left) neglected her son by leaving him in Coombe’s (right) care, a court has heard

Beaton met Andrew’s father, Ben Cawker, in 2014 when she was 16.

She had left school and was studying sport at Balham College. By 2016, the couple were trying for a baby.

Beaton fell pregnant the next year and Mr Cawker was said to have been ‘delighted’ with the news.

When Andrew was four months old Beaton moved into a studio flat in Peckham.

Mr Cawker continued to visit her but the relationship was ‘beginning to go wrong’.

In May 2018, Beaton met Coombe at a fitness class. The court previously heard how Beaton had begun cheating on Andrew’s father after meeting Coombe at the class while trying to lose weight after the birth.

Ms O’Neill said: ‘Tamika Beaton was being quite duplicitous in her relationships with both men as she was continuing to profess her love and commitment to her relationship with Ben Cawker whilst having a relationship with Scott Coombe.’

She had confirmed her relationship with Coombe by December 2018 and by March the following year Andrew began to show ‘regular bruising’, the court was told.

Mr Cawker admitted he and Beaton did not contact social services before Andrew’s death.

‘The marks that worried me – the big ones – had gone. Small little marks in my head was a typical toddler running around.’

Speaking of Andrew’s death he added: ‘In my head, to that day I thought things were better, and out of the blue my son passed, so it was a huge shock to me.’

When Beaton fell pregnant  Mr Cawker was said to have been ‘delighted’ with the news

Andrew had been due to start nursery, but Beaton did not take him because of the questions staff might ask about his bruises, the prosecutor said. 

When questioned by Mr Cawker, she attempted to explain away scratches on the toddler’s nose by saying he had sharp nails and had caused them himself. 

On April 10 2019, Andrew’s father became ‘very concerned’ when Beaton sent him a photo of injuries to the toddler’s ribs, the court heard.

But when he phoned her, she insisted it must have happened when Andrew was with him, and said she had been advised ‘by someone’ not to let her son stay with him until the bruising had cleared.

Despite knowing Coombe was responsible, she continued to suggest the injuries were a result of the father not supervising Andrew properly, the court heard.

Beaton, of Peckham, south London, had denied child cruelty. According to the charge she ‘wilfully ill-treated or neglected Andrew and left him in Coombe’s care, therefore failing to prevent him from being injured and failing to notify social services of his injuries’ between 7 January and 9 July 2019.

She wept as the judge warned her there was the ‘grave risk of a custodial sentence’ and bailed her with condition of residence, not to contact Coombe and to co-operate with the probation officer preparing the report.

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