A man who murdered his girlfriend’s 18-month-old son because he was crying has been jailed for life.
Scott Hepburn, 33, told partner Samantha Knox that her baby boy was asleep to try to cover up his crime.
But little Ashley Johnson had been attacked by Hepburn as he babysat for Miss Knox for one hour on the evening of January 27 this year.
Hepburn threw Ashley on the floor from a height of three feet and smashed him against a wall twice before arranging the semi-conscious child in his cot, as if he were sleeping.
He then went downstairs to watch television. Miss Knox, his girlfriend of four months, arrived back at her home in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, and found her son unconscious when she went to give him a goodnight kiss.
Hepburn pretended he had ‘no idea’ how Ashley had sustained extensive skull fractures and a broken leg and continued to watch TV.
Ashley was taken to hospital but died after suffering extensive fractures to his skull, causing a ‘catastrophic’ brain injury.
Today Hepburn was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars by a judge at Stafford Crown Court.
He had denied the murder charge and was due to face trial in January 2013, but changed his plea to guilty.
Judge Simon Tonking told him: ‘You were alone with Ashley for about an hour and during that time you brutally killed him in what was a sustained and forceful assault.
‘On your own admission you twice threw him on to the floor from a height of about three feet and then twice banging, or slamming as you said, his head full on against the wall.
‘The reason which you have given for doing this is that he was crying and would not stop and you were tired, having got up to look after Ashley during the night.
‘You have taken a son from his mother and a grandchild from his grandparents.’
Hepburn, of Fenton, Staffordshire, told police he had ‘flipped’ because of the tot’s constant sobbing.
In his police statement, which was read out to the court, he said: ‘He was on the settee crying and I picked him up and walked around the room, but he still kept crying.
‘I just didn’t know what to do. I tried to walk him round the room but he was constantly crying.
‘I was tired anyway from getting up in the night and I really just flipped.
‘I just like dropped him, sort of threw him on the floor, and he was still crying so I did it again.
‘I picked him up again as he was still crying and I smashed his head against the wall twice.
‘As a result of that, he stopped crying.’
Staffordshire Police described the case against Hepburn as ‘overwhelming’.
Robert Price, prosecuting, read out a statement from Miss Knox which described the agony of losing her son.
She said: ‘There will never be any words to describe the pain I go through each day.
‘If I could have one wish, it would be to have you back in my arms and to hear you say mum again.’
Hepburn, who lived with his parents, was described in court as someone who had did not have any close friends and would spend most of his time alone in his bedroom on his computer.
His relationship with Miss Knox began when he messaged her on Facebook.