A MAN convicted of killing an 11-month-old baby will spend at least 13 years in prison, a court has ruled.
Sharyar Ali, of Westenra Terrace in Monaghan, killed his then-girlfriend's son, Hunter McGleenon, in Keady, Co Armagh, in November 2019.
He automatically received a life sentence at Newry Crown Court in April this year after pleading guilty to the murder.
The baby suffered a fatal head injury while Ali was looking after him. The child's mother Nicole McGleenon was attending her terminally ill grandmother at the time.
A pathologist's report said the injury was not accidental.
Ali took the baby to see Ms McGleenon at about 10pm on the night of 25 November to say goodnight, and there had been "no cause for concern".
The court also heard that while in charge of the baby, Ali drove to a number of mobile phone shops and casinos in Monaghan and Louth, often leaving Hunter in the car.
Police gathered evidence of Ali's movements prior to the murder using CCTV footage.
After sentencing, Det Insp Mark Gibson said: "It's later that night, having returned to the house in Keady, that Hunter's young life is taken."
When Ali arrived at Nicole's grandmother's house the following morning, he said Hunter wasn't breathing.
He was confirmed as dead at Craigavon Area Hospital later that morning.
Ali, originally from Pakistan, explained that the cause of the death was that Hunter had fallen from a sofa while having his nappy changed.
Detective Inspector Mark Gibson said after sentencing:
“First and foremost, my thoughts today are with Hunter’s loving mother and family, who have suffered terribly. This is a loss that no one – no parent – should ever have to endure.
“It’s been an extremely distressing case, and I’m grateful to my officers for their dedication and sensitivity from the beginning of the investigation right through to today’s sentencing. We have also worked closely with the Public Prosecution Service to bring Mr Ali to justice.
“Unfortunately, I’m acutely aware that the family’s deep sorrow doesn’t end today – it will last a lifetime. And my thoughts remain with them.
Coleen McGleenon, Hunter's aunt, speaking on behalf of the family said they would like to thank each and every one of the team that worked tirelessly on baby Hunter's case.
“This monster who murdered a defenceless baby will, at some point, get to go on to live his life whilst we will continue to grieve and struggle with ours.
“No amount of time will make up for what our family have lost - not being able to see baby Hunter take his first steps, say his first words, celebrate his first birthday, or grow and develop in life.
“We have been robbed of life's precious gift. That monster has taken everything from us. We love and miss you Hunter, more than any words could say."
A candlelit vigil will be held for Hunter at 7pm on 16 November outside the Tommy Makem Centre in Keady, with the family saying those who wish to pay their respects are welcome to come.
The Pubic Prosecution Service (PPS) said it was considering appealing against the sentence for being too lenient.
In a statement, it said that while sentencing was a matter for judges, the director of public prosecutions can refer cases to the Court of Appeal on "the grounds that they may be unduly lenient".
"An unduly lenient sentence is one that falls outside the range of sentences that a judge, taking into consideration all relevant factors and having regard to sentencing guidance, could reasonably consider appropriate.
"We are considering whether there are is a legal ground to refer the sentence in this case to the Court of Appeal for consideration."