Mum held murdered toddler as his life slipped away

This is horrendous! A young mum describes her toddler being killed by her violent boyfriend and how instead of getting support social services zoomed in to to take her other child – victim blaming! And a little boy learns his brother has died and then is taken from his mother for over a year, multiplying his trauma. Such brutal separation amounts to child abuse, and the social workers involved should be sacked. Anyone with an ounce of compassion would know that what he needed most at such a difficult time was to be with his mum, and for her to get the support she needed to carry on despite her devastation.

Emma Marshall told of the heartbreak caused by Jacob Marshall’s killer Jonathan Simpson

By Neil Docking Crown Court Reporter, Liverpool Echo

The mum of a murdered toddler revealed her heartbreak at telling her eldest son his little brother ‘isn’t coming home’.

Jacob Marshall suffered multiple, horrific injuries including a “catastrophic brain injury” at the hands of Jonathan Simpson.

Simpson, 25, offered to mind the 22-month-old child while his girlfriend Emma Marshall, 23, went out to get her hair cut.

A neighbour found Jacob unresponsive at his home in Belford Way, Speke – but Simpson hadn’t even called an ambulance.

Simpson smoked a cigarette while Jacob lay dying, then claimed he fell off a couch, before suggesting he fell down the stairs.

He was found guilty of murder after a trial and today jailed for life with a minimum of 19 years behind bars.

The killer first had to listen to the powerful words of mum-of-two Emma, who also has a six-year-old boy, Thomas.

In a victim statement, she told Liverpool Crown Court that when Jacob was born in September 2017 it was “the happiest day of my life”.

Emma said: “I welcomed another son into the world and a little brother for Thomas. Jacob was always a happy little boy, who was boisterous and made me laugh all of the time.

“He had his own cheeky little ways, he always had the biggest grin you have ever seen. He loved watching Disney films, even if he couldn’t pick which one he wanted to watch.

“He was forever asking for juice and some sweets. Jacob loved his food, he would even eat Thomas’s, if he didn’t finish his tea.

“He had the most amazing relationship with his brother, Thomas and anyone he came into contact with because he was such a happy little boy.

“I will regret leaving Jacob with Jonathan Simpson for the rest of my life.”

Emma cried as she told the court that on Friday, July 12, 2019, her life “changed forever”.

She said: “I made the decision to leave my baby Jacob in the care of Jonathan Simpson and that is something I will regret for the rest of my life.

“I was in the hairdresser getting my hair done, which is something I didn’t do very often, when I received a call from my sister telling me that I needed to get to the hospital straight away.

“I didn’t realise the seriousness of Jacob’s condition as when Jonathan had told me something had happened he had played the whole thing down. It was only when I arrived at the hospital I realised how serious Jacob’s condition was as he had been rushed into surgery.

“I had all different emotions going through my head, I wanted to know what had happened to him, why my baby boy was now in surgery as when I left him a short time before there was nothing wrong with him and I had no concerns for him at all.

“In that short space time my life had been turned upside down and Jacob was now fighting for his life. Not knowing what was happening in surgery was unbearable, all I wanted was answers on how they were going to make him better.”

Emma said when Jacob came out of surgery and doctors told her there was nothing more they could do, “I cannot describe the pain that I felt, my whole world fell apart in that instant”.

She said: “I will never forget the words the surgeon said to me that day, she told me that she had been a surgeon for 17 years and this was the most catastrophic injury she had ever seen and as soon as she opened him up she knew there was nothing that she could do.

“Those words will stay with me forever.” 

Some of the jurors cried in court and so did members of Jacob’s family as the mum continued, while Simpson sat emotionless in the dock.

Emma said: “When I first saw Jacob my heart broke, seeing his little body lying there lifeless hooked up to tubes knowing that they were the only things keeping him alive was heartbreaking.

“As his mum there should have been something that I could have done for him as when he has been poorly before, I have always been able to make him better, but this time there was nothing that neither I or the medical staff could do for him.

“I had to just sit there and wait knowing that he was going to die but at the same time hoping for a miracle and that he would pull through.”

The mum said that while her attention was focused on Jacob, she was aware the police were looking for Simpson as he was now a suspect.

She said: “I had all different emotions going through my head, I just wanted to know what had happened to my little boy, and although Jonathan had given an explanation the injuries Jacob had sustained did not fit with what he had said had happened. I knew Jonathan was lying.

“I was angry with myself as I had made the decision to leave Jacob in the care of Jonathan, but at the same time I was angry at knowing that he’d played a part in what had happened to Jacob.

“I also felt guilty at leaving Jacob in the care of someone who went on to hurt him. The pain I was feeling was unbearable and it’s something that I have never felt before. At times I also felt numb, as what was happening to Jacob and us as a family didn’t feel real.”

Emma said: “Sitting in the hospital waiting felt like forever but at the same time I didn’t want it to end because I knew that when it did we would have to say goodbye to Jacob forever and the thought of that was truly devastating.

“Saturday 13th July 2019 is a day that will stay with me for the rest of my life, as this was the day my baby Jacob passed away after his life support machine was switched off.

“When they told me it was time, my whole world crumbled. Words cannot describe how I felt as I held Jacob in my arms waiting for my little boy to slip away.”

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Sobbing, she added: “I just held him close and watched as his lips and fingertips turned blue.

“The realisation that he was never coming back, that I would never get to see him grow up broke my heart, I was devastated beyond belief.”

Emma said after Jacob died, she was taken to a bereavement suite where she was able to hold Jacob.

She said: “I lay down on the couch with him, holding him in my arms and fell asleep.

“When I was woken up by Elaine from the bereavement centre I was hoping that it had all been a horrible nightmare, but it wasn’t, my baby had gone and there was nothing I could do about it.

Video Loading Touching tributes left outside home after toddler’s death

Emma described the post-mortem examination and what it involved.

She added: “They also had to shave his hair off, Jacob had lovely blond locks and they were gone. They put a hat on him to try and hide how different he looked but it didn’t help, I knew his hair had gone.”

The mum then outlined the agony of having to tell Jacob’s brother that he had gone.

She said: “In the days after Jacob had died I had to stay strong as I had Thomas to think about, when really all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and pretend that none of this was happening, that it was all just a bad dream, but it wasn’t.

“I also had to tell my son, Thomas that his little brother Jacob wasn’t coming home. My mum and I told him together. I can’t describe how much it broke my heart having to tell him that he was never going to see Jacob again.

“We told Thomas that Jacob got sick and there was nothing the doctors could do to make him better, but I’m not sure whether he fully understood what that meant as he knew Jacob wasn’t unwell and would ask the reason why he had to go to hospital.

“I wasn’t able to tell him the truth but I know that one day, when he gets older, I am going to have to tell him the devastating truth of what really happened to Jacob and I can’t imagine the effect that this will have on him.”

Because of the investigation and child services protocols, Thomas had to go and live with his nan and aunt, until he was returned to Emma last October.

Emma said: “Not only was I grieving for the loss of Jacob, I was then given the devastating news that Thomas was being removed from my care, the pain I was feeling was unbearable as I had now lost both my sons.

“In the days after Jacob had passed, I visited him at the bereavement suite and sat with him for as long as I could. I used to lie next to him in bed, snuggling into him whilst crying, making the most of every moment, taking everything in as I never wanted to forget.

“I knew that after his funeral I was never going to be able to hold him or see him ever again, which broke my heart

“The day I picked Jacob up from the bereavement suite and took him to the funeral directors was one of the worst days of my life, something I never imagined I would ever have to do but as his mum I wanted to do it as he was still my little boy.

“On the day of his funeral I felt numb with pain and grief and my heart ached for Jacob. No one should ever have to bury their child, especially a child who had his whole life in front of him.

“Words can’t really express the pain that I felt that day and still do. When the funeral was coming to an end and I had to say goodbye, I couldn’t. I remember just standing there, not wanting to leave my baby boy, I just stared at the picture of him smiling with my heart breaking.”

Emma said as a result of everything she was going through, including Family Court proceedings over Thomas, “it was all just too much”.

She said: “For the first couple of months I was on autopilot, doing what I needed to do but not really knowing what I was doing.

“I wasn’t eating or sleeping and wouldn’t even get dressed of a day. I lay awake at night with everything going round in my head and would end up falling asleep during the day as I was struggling to function.

“One time I didn’t sleep for 72 hours, I was physically exhausted but just couldn’t sleep. I just felt numb with all the pain but then I suddenly realised that I needed to get myself together as I needed to fight to get Thomas back.

“Even now I’m still not sleeping properly, I have only just started sleeping in my own bed, nearly two years on. I used to just sleep on the couch rather than go to bed because I felt scared to go upstairs.

“I knew that life was never going to be the same again, I was used to waking up with Thomas opening the bedroom door, Jacob running in and then them both jumping on the bed with cheesy grins but that is never going to happen again.”

She told the court she was on medication to help her sleep and was prescribed antidepressants, which seemed to help.

Emma said: “I threw myself into attending courses, which would go towards helping me getting Thomas returned to my care as well as helping me personally, which I felt was going well.

“Unfortunately due to the pandemic I was unable to attend the courses. I feel that I have taken a few steps backwards, however I am determined to get back on track for the sake of Thomas and in Jacob’s memory.

“Following Jacob’s death I found it really hard to look at photographs and videos of him, however, slowly I have been able to start looking through them again.

“I have always found it difficult to speak to Thomas about Jacob due to the circumstances surrounding his death and although it’s getting a bit easier I do still struggle.

“It’s hard knowing that Thomas will never grow up with Jacob doing things that little brothers do, playing, fighting, arguing and getting into mischief like brothers do.

“I will never get to see Jacob grow up, I will never get to take him for his first day at school, I can only imagine what type of person he would have grown up to be.

“I will never see him getting married and have his own children, these are all things that people take for granted but this has been taken away from me and Thomas by Jonathan Simpson.”

Emma said her whole family were “heartbroken” and delays in the trial taking place – due to coronavirus and then Simpson’s prevarication – led to her suffering from panic attacks and prolonged the agony of waiting to hear what happened to my baby boy”.

She said: “I do want to know what happened to Jacob but at the same time I don’t want to know as I can’t stand the thought that Jacob may have been frightened, may have been asking for me, whether he was aware of what had happened to him and whether he had suffered and I don’t know whether I would be to deal with this.”

Sobbing, she bravely continued: “Even after the trial I may never know the whole truth about what went on that day, Jonathan Simpson, is the only person who can tell me what really happened that day, he is hiding something as he has given different accounts of what happened.

“The one last decent thing he could do for Jacob is tell the truth.

“I want justice for Jacob but no matter what the outcome is, it will never bring my baby Jacob back.

“I miss Jacob every day and he will always be in my heart.”

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