Thug who murdered 10-month-old baby left chilling 'chain of command' voice note

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Thug who murdered 10-month-old baby left chilling
Thug who murdered 10-month-old baby left chilling 'chain of command' voice note

A murderer facing a life sentence for killing his baby stepson sent his partner a chilling voice note boasting of his place at the top of the "chain of command" in his home.

Craig Crouch sent Gemma Barton the stomach-churning WhatsApp memo bragging of his authority in his job at JCB before saying "this also has to stand at home". The harrowing audio was sent as the pair carried out a campaign of abuse on Barton's 10-month-old son Jacob Crouch, who died of peritonitis as a result of injuries they inflicted.

Little Jacob also had a catalogue of significant injuries after he was found dead in his cot at his home in Derby in December 2020. During their months-long campaign of cruelty, both had "encouraged and applauded" one another as they inflicted assault after assault on the defenceless infant.

Crouch was found guilty of murder and child cruelty at Derby Crown court on Wednesday afternoon. Barton, 33, wept in the dock as she was cleared of murder but convicted of causing or allowing Jacob's death and of an extra count of child cruelty.

Thug who murdered 10-month-old baby left chilling 'chain of command' voice note rriddqixxiqezinvCraig Crouch is facing a life sentence
Thug who murdered 10-month-old baby left chilling 'chain of command' voice noteGemma Barton

Derbyshire Police have now released the disturbing voice note Crouch sent his partner on the messaging app, boasting of a God-like complex where authority in the workplace must be replicated at home. In the clip, Crouch says: "As human beings we tend to follow a hierarchy. What this means is there always has to be a leader, in everything that we do."

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He adds: "Look at workplace business, you would never have two managers or two directors or two team leaders over the same amount of people over the same department earning the same amount of money. You just wouldn't have it.

"You have a chain of command. For example, there is nobody here in exactly the same job that I have over the same people over the same departments. I answer for everyone. Everyone below me answers to me.

"If they f*** up, I get my a*** kicked, and then it goes down the chain of command. This also has to stand at home. There is always a hierarchy."

Thug who murdered 10-month-old baby left chilling 'chain of command' voice noteJacob Crouch was 10 months old when he died of infection triggered by injuries inflicted by his stepdad (PA)

During the trial it was heard how Crouch embellished his role at the building firm, where he worked as a forklift operator. The 39-year-old boasted of having thousands of employees below him and that he had access to the company helicopter and was set to meet then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Details of both Crouch and Barton's abuse of Jacob made for distressing hearing during the trial. One video shown to the jury showed Crouch dunking crying Jacob into a paddling pool in May 2020 when he was just three-months-old, while it was also heard the infant had been forced to eat his own vomit.

Another text message sent to Barton as she bathed the youngster joked she should do so "3 foot deep, [in] just hot water and some bleach xxxx". He later tried to pass off the sick message as "just banter" when quizzed by police.

Jacob had 39 rib fractures and 19 visible bruised as the time of his death, with medical experts saying were inflicted and could not have been as result of everyday activities and playing. He was pronounced dead in his cot on December 30, 2020.

Thug who murdered 10-month-old baby left chilling 'chain of command' voice noteCourt artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Gemma Barton and Craig Crouch appearing at Derby Crown Court (PA)

A post-mortem found Jacob died from peritonitis – an infection of the lining of the abdominal organs – caused by traumatic bowel perforation. A paediatrician said the cause of the perforation was likely inflicted deliberately, while a pathologist said the infection would likely have caused his body to shut down within hours or, at most, “a small number of days”.

Discharging the jury on Wednesday, Mr Justice Kerr said: "It remains for me to thank you for your public service that you have done these last couple of months that must have been a very difficult task, and is very much appreciated. If you wish to be excused from future jury service, you are excused for a period of 10 years from today."

The judge added: "You are now discharged with heartfelt thanks from me." Barton, of Heanor, Derbyshire, and Crouch, of Swadlincote, will be sentenced at the same court on Friday.

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Susie Beever

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