Candice Bailey, a friend of mine and a superb journalist recently wrote an article in the Sunday Tribune about the tragic life of Baby Michael Connor. The Star and Noseweek have also kept a close eye on the case.
As a woman who couldn't fall pregnant my blood boils when I hear of stories like Baby Michael's. Going through the process of adoption we were thoroughly investigated. We had our finances checked. We were checked for criminal records. Tests were done to make sure were mentally stable. Our house was inspected to make sure we could offer a baby a safe environment. All this for a couple desperate for a baby. The irony in life is that every Tom, Dick and Psychopath can have a child. As is the case with Malinda Marshall and Bradley Connor.
Baby Michael was born on 11 July 2003,healthy and happy. But this all changed. According to Noseweek, after his beatings at age two to four months, Michael had Shaken Baby Syndrome.
I cannot even begin to comprehend what this little boy must have gone through. Not quite three months old, he was admitted to hospital with a bruised and swollen left eye. A month later, the four month old was readmitted to Jo'burg Gen. He was now permanently blind, with fresh bruises on his face and irreversible brain damage.
IOL, referring to the couple as 'baby bashers', tell how his parents, both 18 at the time, shook him, throttled him until he was red in the face, and bashed him with fists on his head. This caused a haemorrhage, blindness, brain damage and cerebral palsy.
Now, eight years after they abused their four-month-old baby Michael, Bradley Connor and Malinda Marshall have been found guilty of common assault with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm.
Michael would have turned eight this year. But he was blinded before his first birthday. And he never lived beyond his sixth. He died in 2009 while living in a home for children with cerebral palsy.
The Citizen newspaper reports that Baby Michael's mother pleaded guilty to assaulting her baby and while she was on remand awaiting sentence, the father pleaded guilty in a plea-bargain deal to the offence of not feeding Michael or taking him to hospital for medical treatment. For this he received a two-year suspended prison sentence. The mother then changed her plea to not guilty and when the State tried to recharge Connor he argued he had already been convicted and couldn’t be tried twice.
Yesterday, after a prolonged trial, they were acquitted of murder charges as the state could not prove they intended to murder their baby.
There is no happy ending for Baby Michael. In fact he didn't even get a 'once upon a time'.
And for those of us who have spent years and years trying to fall pregnant, wishing and praying for miracles, going though fertility treatment, and on waiting lists...guess what, the wonderful Malinda Marshall has since had, not one, but two more children...