A five-year-old boy was battered to death in a park by his mother’s boyfriend who flew into a rage after the child lost one of his trainers, a court heard.
Marvyn Iheanacho, 39, is accused of causing Alex Malcolm fatal head and stomach injuries during a violent assault on the evening of November 20 last year.
Witnesses heard a ‘child’s fearful voice saying ‘sorry’… and a man screaming about the loss of a shoe’, jurors were told.
Prosecutors say Iheanacho lost his temper and violently assaulted child model Alex during a trip to the Mountsfield Park in Catford, south-east London.
Iheanacho, from Hounslow, west London, is standing trial at Woolwich Crown Court, where he denies murdering the boy.
‘The prosecution say that he died at the hands of this defendant, a man who was looking after him, acting as his stepfather… violently assaulted the boy, causing him fatal head and stomach injures,’ said prosecutor Eleanor Laws QC
‘The defendant is a man who has ever since, we say, done his best to avoid being held accountable for those injuries.’
A jury heard he was in a relationship with Alex’s mother Lilya Breha and would often stay at her flat in Catford.
CCTV captured Iheanacho taking Alex from his home, on three separate buses, to the park, where they arrived at around 5.12pm, when it was already dark.
Alex was wearing black trainers, a red jacket, a woolly hat and gloves.
Ms Laws told jurors there are no witnesses or CCTV footage of ‘the defendant landing blows on Alex’, but continued: ‘There is, however, clear evidence as to the fact the defendant lost his temper with Alex before he sustained his injuries.’
She said prosecutors know the pair went to the play area because Alex lost one of his trainers, which was later found there by police.
Describing an incident at about 6pm, she added: ‘The defendant was heard shouting loudly at Alex after finding out that Alex had lost his shoe.’
One witness, Sarah Strugnell, saw Iheanacho bend down to the child and ask where his shoes were, the court heard.
‘The man was very angry indeed and Sarah Strugnell describes how he was raging at the child who was very quiet,’ said the prosecutor.
‘Her partner recalls hearing the loud banging and a male voice screaming about the loss of shoes and a child’s fearful voice saying ‘sorry’.’
The prosecutor added: ‘He describes the banging continuing. He shouted to his dogs which appeared to bring the male’s shouting to an end.
‘It is the prosecution case that this banging could well have been in fact banging from repeated assaults upon Alex.
‘At some point, whether during this confrontation or between this confrontation and the next sighting of the defendant by dog-walkers, soon after, back in the park, the boy had received extreme injuries.’
Iheanacho was then seen by dog-walkers Karen Leigh-Phillips and her partner Johanne, the court heard.
The prosecutor continued: ‘They approached a man, the prosecution say the defendant, who was talking on his phone and noticed a child lying flat on his back on the bench, with his arm dangling from the bench.
‘They heard the defendant saying something into his phone about losing something and the fact that he was still looking for it. They also heard him say “He’s fallen asleep and he’s heavy”.’
Iheanacho then carried Alex unconscious ‘as if he were a baby’ to a minicab office, from where he was taken back to Ms Breha’s flat, despite the nearest hospital being just a five-minute walk away, the court heard.
He told Alex’s mother her son fell to his knees and hit his head and that he slapped him to try to wake him up, jurors heard.
Ms Laws said Iheanacho then attacked a screaming Ms Breha after she called him a ‘danger to her family’ and stopped her from calling an ambulance.
But she grabbed the phone after noticing her son was getting cold, his face had turned blue and he had stopped breathing.
The court heard Iheanacho told one paramedic Alex had fallen onto his knees and hit his head on the floor, but told others he had fallen from a climbing frame.
Doctors at Lewisham Hospital tried to resuscitate Alex, but a CT scan revealed he was suffering from severe brain swelling, and he was transferred to King’s College Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A post-mortem revealed bruises on the youngster’s head, neck, and body, while a pathologist concluded the combination of impact type head injury and blunt trauma to the abdomen was ‘consistent with inflicted injury’.
The prosecutor said Iheanacho denies causing any of the injuries to Alex, describing what happened as ‘an accident’.
But she said Iheanacho delivered a ‘forceful blow’, such as ‘a kick, a stamp, or a punch,’ and added: ‘The prosecution say that Alex’s death was no accident.
‘The injuries suffered were extensive and did not result from a fall. The defendant lost his temper, most likely because Alex had lost his trainer.
‘He has previous convictions for violence and has a tendency to lose his temper and lash out.’
The trial continues.