Doncaster man found guilty of toddler’s murder
Martin Currie (36) has been found guilty today at Sheffield Crown Court of the murder of his partner’s two year old son, Keigan O’Brien. The child’s mother, Sarah O’Brien (33), was found guilty of causing or allowing her son’s death at the hands of Currie. They were also both found guilty of cruelty to a child.
On Monday 6 January 2020, Keigan O’Brien had his second birthday. Tragically, it was to be his last.
Two days later on 8 January, his body lay lifeless in his bed at home. He was close to death. While the emergency services were summoned to help him, it was to be in vain. He died on 10 January 2020, following extensive efforts to save his life.
Investigations showed that Keigan had been subjected to a significant head injury. This caused a bleed on his brain, which ultimately killed him. It also became apparent that Keigan had also suffered a number of other injuries in the preceding months, including fractures to his ribs and spine.
Two people - his mother, Sarah O’Brien, and her partner, Martin Currie - were responsible for Keigan's care.
O’Brien allowed Currie to move in with her shortly after she began a relationship with him in July 2019, despite being warned not to do so. From that point on, witnesses noticed a marked change in her attitude and behaviour towards her son.
From an early stage in their relationship, injuries were noticed on Keigan, including black eyes. No medical help was sought by the pair.
Currie was witnessed being rough with the child and on one occasion said to him ”stop moaning, you little bastard.” O’Brien referred to her son, amongst other things, as “shit stain.”
Analysis of Currie's internet usage on the morning of 8 January showed that, while O'Brien was out, Currie had conducted online searches in relation to irregular breathing. Further searches about unconsciousness and gurgling were undertaken when O’Brien returned home.
Two hours elapsed before medical aid was summoned for Keigan. Neither defendant was able to give a satisfactory explanation for the little boy’s injuries, which were consistent with his head impacting a hard surface such as a floor or wall, with considerable force. In addition, Keigan's blood was found on his high chair, on a wall, and on Currie’s clothing.
Jill Brookes from the CPS said: "Tragically, little Keigan O’Brien’s life came to an end only four days after his second birthday. He was killed in his own home - the place where he should have been safest from harm.
"Having heard all the evidence, the jury decided that Currie inflicted fatal injuries on the defenceless little boy, and O’Brien took no steps to protect her child. They both then lied about what had happened. The pair are now facing lengthy prison sentences.
"The desperately sad and shocking outcome of this case is that Keigan’s life ended before it had barely begun. Our thoughts remain with the rest of Keigan’s family, as they have been throughout."
Notes to editors
- Jill Brookes is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS Yorkshire and Humberside
- Sarah Jane O’Brien: D.o.B 2/9/87
- Martin Currie: D.o.B 26/12/83