A man who murdered his then girlfriend’s 11-month old baby in Keady has been told he must spend at least 13 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole.
Sharyar Ali, of Westenra Terrace in Monaghan, faces a mandatory life term after pleading guilty to his role in the death of little Hunter Patrick McGleenon on November 26, 2019.
Appearing before Newry Crown Court for a tariff hearing, the 34-year-old was told “a life of a child has been lost and a family left clearly devastated and heartbroken”.
In a highly emotive and evidently difficult hearing, the prosecution described little Hunter, who suffered horrific internal and external injuries, as “a much loved, happy and affectionate” little boy.
The court heard how, on Monday November 25, 2019 Hunter’s mum Nicole asked the defendant if he would look after the child during the day and into the evening so that she would be freed up to spend time in the presence of her family, who at that time were tending to their dying grandmother.
She indicated to Ali that at some stage she might want to come home during the night, that she wasn’t sure if she would spend all of the night at the grandmother’s house, which was at the opposite end of the town.
Ali agreed to look after Hunter and he and the baby spent the day together, travelling in his car, stopping off at mobile phone shops in Monaghan and Dundalk before returning to see Nicole at around 10pm that evening.
The defendant then left with Hunter who, at that time, “appeared to be fine and well and gave no cause for concern to his mother” however, “this was the last time that any of the McGleenon family and, indeed, more importantly, his mother Nicole saw him alive”.
Around 3-3.30am, in the early hours of Tuesday, November 26, Nicole decided that she wanted to return home “because she was missing her child, Hunter”.
Her sister Colleen drove Nicole back to her home at Market Street in Keady. They banged on the door with some force and attempted to telephone and message Ali, even shouting through the letterbox in order to wake him up, but got “absolutely no response or reply”. The court heard how they tried to wake him up for some 20 minutes.
The next morning, a local postman called at the Market Street address to deliver a parcel. The defendant did not indicate there was any problem with Hunter at that time.
A short time later the defendant then drove across the town to Crossmore Green, where Nicole was at the time with her family, and went inside the house leaving Hunter in his car.
That morning, many of the McGleenon family had gathered at the house “in the terrible anticipation of their grandmother dying”.
Nicole’s sister was the person who had the initial contact with Ali at the house. She described his demeanour at the time as “calm” and she recounted to him that she and Nicole had tried unsuccessfully to waken him during the night.
It was only after a general exchange then that the defendant volunteered any information about Hunter and that Hunter “fell off the sofa and hit his head and he is not breathing”.
Several members of the family ran outside to the defendant’s car where the “anxiety and panic was endemic”.
The prosecution said: “Hunter was in the car tucked up in a blue blanket and in a child car seat. He had his head down, his chin resting, it appeared, on his chest and he appeared to be lifeless.
“The car was still locked. Colleen shouted to the defendant to open the door. She lifted Hunter out and she describes knowing that he was dead because he was blue. He was described as freezing cold to the touch and there were bruises on his head.
“Given that there were quite a number of the family there, there was a great deal of understandable distress and upset. The paramedics arrived at a 10:53am and they took over the CPR and took him in the ambulance. At that stage Hunter was showing no signs of life.
“In the back of the ambulance, the full paediatric advanced life support protocol was commenced and persistent. But, as your lordship knows, that was to no avail.”
Paramedics asked Ali what had happened; the paramedic, in her statement, recounts that he said when he was changing the baby’s nappy, the baby had fallen from the sofa and onto the floor.
In their submissions, Ali’s defence barrister stated that the evidence did not support “prolonged or separate applications of violent force towards the child” and that the injuries could have been caused “by a possible loss of temper”.
They added that he was “remorseful and lives with the shame and the devastation he has caused”.
In passing sentence, Mr Justice McFarland said: “You were born in Pakistan and came to the United Kingdom in October 2010 on a student visa, which was then due to expire in November 2013. You obtained an extension to that visa, until 2015.
“However, your entire immigration to the United Kingdom is highly questionable; the Home Office were carrying out investigations. You appear to have been married at that time, although question marks have arisen concerning the status of that marriage. I am told that the authorities in the Republic of Ireland made a deportation order against you in 2015.
“There’s a high likelihood that you will certainly be deported from the UK if and when you are released from custody.”
Addressing the time of the offence, Judge McFarland said: “Unfortunately Nicole’s grandmother was very seriously ill, and in fact in a terminal condition. Nicole asked you to look after Hunter that day, and you agreed to take on that responsibility.
“You basically went about your normal business, working with regard to mobile phones. There was also some attendance at casinos. You brought Hunter with you and left him in the car alone.
“We do know that despite that reckless conduct on your part, he did not come to any harm because you met up again with Nicole that evening, at approximately 10pm.
“Throughout this period you had maintained your story that Hunter had fallen off the sofa when his nappy was being changed.”
The judge outlined how Ali maintained his story on attempting to resuscitate Hunter with chest compressions and slapping him.
“Police interviewed you on a number of occasions over the following four days and essentially you maintained the same core story that you had given to the family and indeed to the medical staff earlier.”
The court heard how Hunter had suffered 19 head and neck injuries, bruising to the lower body and “significant internal injuries” caused by trauma.
“What is crystal clear is that the injuries were not caused by Hunter falling off a settee,” said McFarland.
“You have still not offered a credible explanation for the injuries.”
The judge described how the family’s grief and suffering has not departed with the passing of time.
“It is clearly a time of intense grief and late November each year will remain a difficult period for the entire family, in particular Nicole.”
Judge McFarland referenced Ali’s clear criminal record and good work record and that “it is clear in my view, that there was no intention on your part to kill Hunter but you did intend to cause him really serious injuries and that is obvious from the nature of the injuries”
He added: “In all likelihood, there was a situation of Hunter crying, being inconsolable and you being unable to cope with that resulting in an extreme loss of temper and loss of control.”