Saturday, January 29, 2011

UK Television: Law & Order: UK, Episode 4.3 "Shaken"

Law & Order:  UK
Season Four, Episode Three, Shaken
Shaken, Original Air Date:  November 18, 2010 (Canada)

Shaken, Original Air Date:  March 28, 2011 (U.K.)
Based on Law & Order (US) "Homesick", Season 6, Episode 22 (15th May, 1996)

The death of a baby is thought to be because he was shaken.  The suspects include the baby's parents, the nanny and the nanny's boyfriend.  The case takes a twist when it is learned the baby might not have died from having been shaken.

At the home of Michael & Suzanne Raines, Michael Raines arrives home to the sound of loud music.  He yells to the nanny, Leyla Merton (Rebecca Night), who turns the music down then both of them go in to check on the baby who is apparently sleeping.  The baby isn't sleeping and he orders Leyla to phone 999.  Suzanne Raines arrives home after Brooks and Devlin have already arrived.  Autopsy shows the baby had the characteristic injuries of Shaken Baby Syndrome.  He died between 7 and 9 p.m., but the abuse could have occurred anywhere within the last 12 hours of his life.

Jessica goes over the baby monitor the Raines used with their son but she is unable to retrieve the recording from it.  She does know someone who can if he has the hard drive.  Devlin sees the baby's mum as the prime suspect in his death.  However, in this particular case, the nanny, Leyla, was the primary caregiver for the baby although she had no formal childcare training.  Chandler orders them to speak with the parents first but to go easy on them.

Both Michael and Suzanne Raines appear to be extremely competent parents who did everything right with their son.  Brooks and Devlin inform them that they don't believe it was crib death and that someone shook the boy.  While they are speaking with the police, Suzanne's mobile rings.  It's work and she has to take the call despite her husband telling her to let the call go to voicemail.  When Devlin suggests that Suzanne was under a lot of pressure from work and the baby, Michael Raines immediately jumps to her defense.  Neither of the Rains' saw their son the day he died.  Suzanne rushed out to work and didn't even open the door.  Michael was in Manchester overnight on business.  Michael's ex-wife, Andrea, has a key to the Raines home as she and Michael share an online jewelry business and the office for it is in the Raines house.

Brooks and Devlin speak with Andrea Raines who was looking at samples the day the baby died.  She didn't return until early evening and provides them with contact information for the individual she met with.  She tells them that the nanny overdosed the baby and they should be talking to her instead.  After finding out the details of the overdose, Chandler orders them to speak with her.  She explains that she was tired and didn't read the bottle properly.  The baby was teething and she'd been up with him half the night.  She denies hurting baby Alex the day he died.  They bring up the loud music she was listening to and suggest that she was playing it because she knew the baby was dead.  Leyla used 'controlled crying' with Alex despite the fact Mrs. Raines disapproved of it.

After a discussion where Devlin, Brooks and Chandler don't all agree on the use of controlled crying, Chandler instructs them to speak with Leyla's former employers to see if they experienced any problems with her care.  Mrs. Allen tells them Leyla used to spend the entire evening on her laptop and she worried she spent the entire day on it as well.  She borrowed a 'nanny cam'.  She heard her daughter, Mia, in her room crying while Leyla was on the sofa having sex with her boyfriend.

Jessica accessed Leyla's email and social networking accounts and finds that Leyla's boyfriend, Lloyd is stationed in Afghanistan.  They met on a social networking site and have only met a handful of times.  She reads some racy communications between the two.  She checked Leyla's media files and found a video of Leyla and her boyfriend having sex.  The video was made the night the baby died.  It started at 8:21 p.m. and finished at 8:45 when Leyla heard Michael Raines come home.  She found an email where Leyla told her boyfriend Michael was delayed, his wife was at work and that if he (Lloyd) came to the house she (Leyla) would make sure the baby didn't get in their way.

In interview, Leyla is adamant that Lloyd wouldn't hurt the baby or anyone.  Alex cried just after Lloyd arrived.  She claims she went upstairs, rocked him back to sleep and by time she got to the bottom of the stairs he was crying again.  Lloyd was in the baby's room, but she claims he wasn't in there long.  He told her he used to get his baby brother to sleep all the time.  The police take a closer look at Lloyd and find he has no criminal record and has been in the army since he left school and stationed in Afghanistan for the past five months.  He did have a baby brother that died at 3 months of age but no cause of death could be determined.  The death was ruled as SIDS.  Lloyd was babysitting.

Devlin and Brooks arrest Lloyd on suspicion of Alex's murder.  In interview, he denies hurting his brother, Dante, as well as Alex.  He said he sang the baby "Blackbird" by the Beatles as it was a song his mum used to sing to him.  Brooks cites an attack on a fellow member of Lloyd's regiment and he explains that he was trying to break up a fight.  Brooks lays down a scenario of how he thinks things happened and Lloyd becomes angry.  Leyla is surprised to learn that Lloyd's baby brother died under his care.  She admits the lights on the baby monitor stopped flashing when Lloyd went into Alex's room.  When Brooks tells Lloyd about them working to recover the recording from the baby monitor's hard drive, Lloyd admits Leyla went back into Alex's room and started shouting and completely lost it.  He went in after her and turned the baby monitor off.  Since they both place each other in the baby's room, Phillips orders that both Leyla and Lloyd are to be charged with murder.

In court, the judge remands both defendants into custody.  Leyla's attorney, Helena Marsden (Jemma Redgrave) gives Steel and Phillips a motion to exclude Leyla's laptop, the video and email communications.  In court, both Steel and Marsden argue for and against the laptop and information it contained.  The judge rules the laptop evidence inadmissible. 

Steel would prefer to go after just one of the defendants instead of two so he can be sure of a conviction.  Devlin gives Phillips the retrieved video from the baby monitor.  The recording proves Lloyd was telling the truth about turning off the monitor then having sex with Leyla and being interrupted by Michael Raines.  Nineteen seconds after the baby monitor was shut off, Lloyd turned on the camera to record he and Leyla.  The video clears Lloyd of Alex's death.  When Steel and Phillips deliver the news to his attorney that he will be free to go, they are met in the prison by the warden who informs them Lloyd was stabbed by his cellmate a half hour ago and died before the ambulance arrived.

Steel meets with Helena Marsden for a drink and they discuss the case.  Marsden doesn't feel the video exonerating Lloyd proves Leyla's guilt but Steel thinks she has to be the only other possible suspect.  Steel speaks with Lucy, the technician who did the post-mortem on Alex, wanting her to testify in court.  She's 100% certain the baby was shaken but she doesn't want to testify. 

Steel brings Lucy into court to testify where she tells the jury about the severity of Alex's injuries.  Marsden questions whether she found any bruising or damage to the baby's arms, spine or bones, all of which were negative.  Marsden suggests an accidental head injury could have caused the same pattern of swelling and bleeding that Alex experienced.  Lucy admits that it is possible.  Marsden points out shortcomings in Lucy's post-mortem.

Steel calls Andrea Raines who testifies that Leyla was usually on the sofa checking email while Alex was in the cot or playpen upstairs, more of than not, crying.  She describes an instance where Alex was ill and needed changing but Leyla ignored the situation and went back to her laptop and put her earphones back on.  She describes another event, two weeks before Alex's death, where he threw his bowl of food in the kitchen.  Leyla shouted at him, grabbed him from the high chair then shoved him into the playpen.

Suzanne Raines tells the court they trusted Leyla and that it broke her heart to leave her child with a nanny.  Marsden questions why she returned to work after Alex's birth and suggests she wanted her job more than her child.  Marsden is able to illustrate that Suzanne Raines didn't research the agency where she hired Leyla from very well.  Marsden points out the amount of time Suzanne spent away from the house for her job.  She then asks if Alex had any injuries or bumps to the head recently and Suzanne admits the baby fell off the changer when Michael was reaching for a nappy, three weeks before Alex died.

The jury cannot reach a verdict in the case and the prosecution is given seven days to determine if there will be a retrial.  Steel further researches Suzanne's claim in court that their GP gave Alex a clean bill of health after his fall from the changer.  The GP found nothing external indicating an injury so Steel is forced to go back to Lucy.  There is the possibility the death could have been accidental but she would need to re-examine the brain and skull to be positive.  Steel has the baby exhumed despite Michael Raines begging him not to.  After examination, Lucy calls Steel with information there were signs of a healing fracture in Alex's skull.  They go back to Leyla to question whether she was rough with him which could have triggered the injury.  She denies ever mistreating him.  When Marsden finds out the prosecution thinks the death could have been accidental she threatens to sue for damages, which Leyla doesn't want.

Steel and Phillips question Andrea further.  She tells them that she passed Alex's room a few days before he died and saw Lloyd in there playing with Alex, flying him like an airplane.  She excuses herself for a meeting.  When she's gone, Steel knows she's lying as Lloyd couldn't have been there a few days prior.  They again question Andrea about her seven failed IVF attempts and press her for the truth.  She admits she dropped off files at the Raines home and that she held Alex the night he died.  She couldn't hold the baby anymore so she just let go.

Law & Order:  UK airs on Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m. on CityTV in Canada.  Season Four is currently not airing in the UK and will air at a later date.
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