'Cruel' dad Alan Bird must serve at least eight years in prison for murdering his son after being found guilty more than two decades years after fatal attack

A dad who was found guilty of murdering his son more than 20 years after he suffocated him when he was a toddler must serve a minimum of eight years in prison.

Alan Bird was handed a life sentence after a jury found him guilty of murdering his son Lewis Turner after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Bird inflicted life-changing injuries upon Lewis in 2001 when he suffocated him and caused permanent brain injuries.

Lewis, who was two at the time of the attack, died at the home of his adoptive parents in Tingley in 2019.

Alan Bird, right, was given a life sentence with a minimum of eight years in prison after being found guilty of murdering his son Lewis Turner, left.

Bird has already served an eight-year prison sentence over the attack after he pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent over the assault which left Lewis with "permanent and irreparable" brain damage.

Bird was re-arrested and put on trial for murder following Lewis' death in July 2019.

Sentencing him today (March 28), Mr Justice Jacobs told 48-year-old Bird: "Lewis, as a consequence of your attack, had suffered irreversible brain injury that left him with profound problems.

"The jury were sure that your original actions in 2001 were a significant cause of Lewis's death in 2019.

Alan Bird was found guilty of murder at Leeds Crown Court.

"In July 2002 you pleaded guilty at this court to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent and an offence of child cruelty.

"That reflected the generally cruel manner in which you treated him before you smothered him."

Bird must serve a minimum of eight years in custody before he can apply to the parole board for release.

The judge said: "Your case is unusual and presents a more difficult sentencing direction than many murder cases.

Lewis Turner died 17 years after he suffered permanent brain injuries when he was suffocated by Alan Bird.

"That is because Lewis's death occurred many years after the attack."

The judge praised Lewis's adoptive parents for the care they had given him throughout most of his life.

He said: "Lewis led what most people would regard as a terrible life.

"While that statement is true, it overlooks the fact that following his profound injuries he was cared for with a devotion that few could match."

The jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict last Tuesday (March 22).

Jurors heard how Lewis developed a "myriad of conditions" which included cerebral palsy as a result of Bird's attack.

His speech, hearing and sight were impaired and he had to be fed through a tube.

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Lewis was found dead on July 18, 2019, at the home where he lived with his adoptive parents in Tingley, Leeds.

The cause of death was given as peritonitis caused by an infection from his feeding tube.

Bird, of Common Road, Batley, was charged with murder following Lewis' death as there is no time limit as to how long someone remains "criminally responsible."

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Richard Wright QC told the jury: "The death of Lewis Turner was not some freak infection that took the life of a healthy boy.

"It was instead the final consequence of a deliberate assault on Lewis by Alan Bird."

Mr Wright continued: "His feeding tube caused the infection to develop.

"He only had that feeding tube as a direct consequence of the defendant attacking him."

Bird was Lewis' natural father and he attacked his son on the night of September 29, 2001, when he was just two years old.

The attack took place at their home on Thorn Avenue, Thornhill, Dewsbury.

Paramedics found Lewis covered in bruises and "deathly pale" when they were called to the property.

He was rushed to hospital where a scan revealed he had suffered the devastating injuries as a result of his brain being starved of oxygen.

Bird later admitted to a social worker that he was responsible for causing the injuries and had done so by holding a pillow over the child's face for a few minutes.

Bird's barrister, Jamie Hill QC, said his client had not committed any further offences since being released from prison 15 years ago.

He said: "He has led a law-abiding life since 2007.

"He has been managing an abattoir in Batley and has provided for his most recent wife and her teenage children."