Man jailed for manslaughter for death occurring 15 years after initial assault


On 9 November 2020, John Doak was imprisoned for three years for killing his own son. The case, unusually, arose from an incident in 2001, wherein Mr Doak’s 3 month old baby son Jack had suffered the ‘triad’ of subdural haemorrhages, encephalopathy and retinal haemorrhages whilst in the sole care of Mr Doak. Sadly, although Jack survived the incident, he was caused very serious brain damage and was left heavily disabled. John Doak was tried and convicted of an offence under section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (GBH with intent) at Basildon Crown Court in 2002 and was sentenced to  imprisonment for four years. In 2016, Jack (now 16 years old) died. According to all the experts instructed by both parties, the death was caused by the injuries Jack received in 2001.

Philip Evans QC and Philip Stott were instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute Mr Doak for the homicide of his son, permission having been obtained from the Attorney General to initiate proceedings. The case involved very large amounts of expert medical opinion evidence, obtained from both sides of the Atlantic, and consideration of what were inevitably complex legal issues. John Doak eventually pleaded guilty to Manslaughter and was sentenced by Mr Justice Cavanagh at Chelmsford Crown Court to a sentence of three years imprisonment (reduced from 8 years to take account of his guilty plea and the 4 years Mr Doak had already spent in prison for the same incident).

The case was widely reported in the press and can be found on BBC and Echo.

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