Exclusive: Father plans private prosecution to get ‘justice’ for tragic toddler

Nicholas Harry

Nicholas Harry

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A grieving father is planning to launch a private prosecution against a couple accused of killing his son, the Gazette can exclusively reveal.

Nicholas Harry continues to fight for ‘justice’ after the death of his 19-month-old son Samuel, who sustained a substantial head trauma which caused a bleed to the brain.

Samuel Harry

Samuel Harry

Earlier this year an inquest heard that it is ‘highly likely’ the injuries were inflicted on him.

At the time of the incident the toddler was in the care of his mother Deanna Buffham and her former partner Ryan Bate, who blame each other for the child’s death.

Mr Harry, from Houghton Regis, told the Gazette: “This is really important to me because if it succeeds it would set a precedent.

“It has always been an option since we were told the police might not be able to get a prosecution, but at first it was not viable.

Shoppers in The Mall Luton backed Mr Harry's petition on Saturday

Shoppers in The Mall Luton backed Mr Harry's petition on Saturday

“Since then we have had so much support and it has become much more of a viable option, it will happen in the new year.

“I feel like it is my duty to prevent this from happening to anyone else.”

In July coroner Martin Oldham handed down a verdict of unlawful killing and condemned Miss Buffham and Mr Bate for their accounts, telling the inquest: “They do know the truth but they have simply not come forward with it.”

Miss Buffham and Mr Bate were arrested after the child’s death in April 2013, however there was insufficient evidence to bring charges with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Harry, pictured with his father Peter

Mr Harry, pictured with his father Peter

Detectives from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit continue to review the case.

More than 27,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to examine Samuel’s death and on Saturday Mr Harry took his campaign to The Mall, Luton.

After being inundated by well-wishers he is confident that he would be able to raise the £100,000 needed for a private prosecution.

Mr Harry said: “I don’t think it would be a problem, we really could do it.

“People were throwing cash at us on Saturday and I had to say that I didn’t want any money, just signatures.

“Everyone wanted to know about our story and many people were walking away with tears in their eyes.

“I apologised to a few people as I didn’t want to upset them, especially as they had only come out to do their Christmas shopping.

“It was gruelling going over it over and over again.”

During July’s inquest Miss Buffham and Mr Bate were repeatedly questioned about what happened on the night before Samuel was taken to hospital,

Shortly after 10pm Mr Bate was picked up by cameras driving towards Olney, Bucks, and between 10:16pm and 10:25pm he received three text messages and two missed calls from Miss Buffham.

While at Addenbrooke’s Hospital days later Mr Bate deleted the messages, telling the inquest that he did so to free up memory on his phone.

He added: “I know it looks as dodgy as anything (but) I have got nothing to hide”.

Both Mr Bate and Miss Buffham claim not to remember the former leaving the home on that night, or who put Samuel to bed.

The pair pointed the finger at each other and Miss Buffham said she “can only assume” Samuel’s brain injuries were caused by Ryan Bate.

However Mr Bate claimed that “it follows suit that it was Deanna”, adding: “if there were two people and it was not one of them then it must be the other.”

> To sign Nicholas’ petition log on to www.change.org/p/justice-for-sam