A FATHER has been convicted of the manslaughter of his 15-week-old son, upon whom he inflicted what a prosecutor described as "catastrophic head injuries".

Matthew Jones, 26, was found not guilty of the murder of Cody Rhys Williams-Jones by a jury at Newport Crown Court.

But he broke down in tears in the dock when, seconds later, the jury foreman delivered a guity verdict on the manslaughter charge.

Members of his family and that of his former partner and Cody's mother Paula Williams also shed tears when the 'guilty' verdict came.

The jury's verdict - after a little more than two hours' deliberation - followed a two-and- a-half week trial.

Afterwards, Cody’s mother Paula Williams, in a statement read out by Detective Sergeant David Trew of Gwent Police, said:

“It is extremely difficult for me to have to write or speak about what has happened to my perfect son.

“Cody was, and still is, a much-loved son, grandson, nephew and cousin. He was perfect, and he had big beautiful eyes and a wonderful smile that caught everyone’s attention.

“His death has affected me and my family in so many ways. The jury today accepted that Matthew Jones unlawfully killed our son Cody Rhys. This gives me and my family some closure towards what has happened.

“This has been an extremely difficult time for me and my family.

“I’d like to thank each and every one of the medical staff who gave their best efforts to try and save my son. I would also like to thank Gwent Police for all their support and endless hours put in to getting justice for us.

“Me and my family are so grateful for all the support they have given us. We wouldn’t have been able to get through this with out their support. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

Cody suffered the injuries whilst alone with Jones, formerly of South Bank, Beaufort, Ebbw Vale, in the early evening of December 7 2016, at the above address, where lives with his parents.

South Wales Argus: (Image: Gwent Police)(Image: Gwent Police)

Jones, an electrical engineer at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital near Llantrisant, who has played rugby for Ebbw Vale and Newbridge, had been at home alone with Cody when he made a panicked phone call to his partner, Cody's mother Paula Williams, urging her to come home quickly as there was something wrong with the baby.

This followed a call several minutes earlier when he had asked where Cody's teething gel was.

Cody died in hospital the following day, December 8 2016. A post mortem revealed he had suffered extensive bleeding from, and swelling of, his brain, as well as much retinal bleeding.

There was also evidence  of a small, older bleed on his brain, an old shoulder fracture, and several recent rib fractures.

During the trial it was revealed that Jones had initially been so unhappy at the prospect of becoming a father that he tried to persuade Ms Williams - with whom he began  a relationship in 2015 - to terminate the pregnancy.

The relationship ended, but he had changed his mind as the pregnancy progressed, and by the time he attended the 20-week scan with Ms Williams, he was happy and excited.

The relationship resumed and they moved in together.

Cory was born in August 2016 and was described as a healthy and happy baby. Jones was both excited and frightened at the prospect of fatherhood.

The court was told that he and Ms Williams had arguments - both described it more as bickering - put down to their tiredness, with Ms Williams caring for Cody and Jones working extra hours to provide for them all.

He admitted having a temper and being more irritable when tired.

But he insisted, whilst giving evidence, that he had never, and would never, harm Cody.

Jones maintained that Cody had slipped out of his arms onto the bed as he, Jones, reached for teething gel to soothe his crying son.

But the court was told that Jones gave differing accounts of how and where Cody had fallen - including that he had fallen onto a laminate floor, and that he had banged his head on a wooden changing table as he fell - to different people in the minutes and hours afterwards.

Expert witnesses called by the prosecution maintained that Cody's head injuries could not have been sustained by falling onto a mattress, bouncing and landing again, as Jones described.

One said they were indicative of abusive head trauma, another that they were shaking and impact injuries.

Still another called Jones' explanation of what happened "implausible", based on the injuries.

South Wales Argus: (Image: Gwent Police)(Image: Gwent Police)

Speaking after the verdict, Susan Crossley of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Throughout this case, there have been several explanations from Matthew Jones as to the cause of Cody’s injuries whilst in his sole care.

“The expert evidence called by the CPS showed that it was highly doubtful these explanations would result in the fatal injuries.

“Cody had everything to live for and that chance was taken away by his own father.  It is difficult to imagine the heart-break the family has gone through and our thoughts are firmly with them.”

An NSPCC Cymru/Wales spokesman also commented on the case, saying: “As a father, Jones should have nurtured and protected his son from harm - instead his actions caused him horrific injuries with devastating consequences.

“Babies and young children are completely dependent upon the adults who care for them and Jones horrifically disregarded that responsibility.

“The NSPCC offers help and support to parents via our website and our helpline on 0808 800 5000.”

Jones has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on Wednedsay, July 17, at Newport Crown Court.