Father whose kiss led to two-month-old son’s death turned to drink before attacking ex-partner

Kaiden McCormick pictured at the hospital with his mother Marie Clare McCormick and father Carl Maclaren

A loving father, whose kiss led to the heartbreaking death of his baby son, spiraled into a self-destructive life of drink and drugs that culminated in a horrific attack on his former partner.

Carl Maclaren, 44, blamed himself after he unknowingly passed the cold sore virus, herpes simplex, to his premature child who died of multiple organ failure aged just two months in 2012.

Maclaren had kissed his son when he was just two weeks old, unknowingly passing on a virus that most adults carry without ever knowing it.

A court heard today that he was troubled by the death of Kaiden, whose life support system was switched off after he struggled in hospital for six weeks.

During the first Covid lockdown, Maclaren started drinking heavily again, which was the beginning of the end of his relationship with his partner, the mother of his child, Marie Clare McCormick, 37.

Liverpool Crown Court was told he broke into her home after the end of their 12-year relationship earlier this year while she was resting in her upstairs bed on the afternoon of May 11.

She was frightened after hearing bangs downstairs and Maclaren then came into her room and shouted at her and called her ‘a slag’ and accused her of being with someone else, said Paul Blasbery, prosecuting.

The court heard he held her by the hair with one hand and began hitting her with his other hand, causing her to fall to the floor.

Kaiden McCormick pictured at the hospital with his mother Marie Clare McCormick and father Carl Maclaren

Kiss of death: Baby Kaiden McCormick died after contracting a cold virus he caught while receiving a loving kiss from his father Carl Maclaren (right)

Kiss of death: Baby Kaiden McCormick died after contracting a cold virus he caught while receiving a loving kiss from his father Carl Maclaren (right)

Heartbreaking: Kaiden spent six weeks on a life support machine but doctors were unable to save him

Heartbreaking: Kaiden spent six weeks on a life support machine but doctors were unable to save him

Marie Clare said she saw Carl's heart 'break in two' when they found out what had caused Kaiden's death

Marie Clare said she saw Carl’s heart ‘break in two’ when they found out what had caused Kaiden’s death

She instinctively rolled herself into a ball to try and he stomped on her in the direction of her face and head.

Mr Blasbery said: ‘She was screaming for help and she was afraid the attack wouldn’t stop and really thought she was going to be killed.’

The court heard he left the property in Swifts Lane, Netherton, Bootle, shouting: ‘Look, I’m going to take that child away from you.’

She waited for a while and then went downstairs and upon seeing her bloody face asked a friend to take her children from school so that they would not see her injuries.

She then called the police.

At 4.45pm, while waiting for police, Maclaren returned smelling strongly of alcohol and slurring his words saying he was sorry before being arrested, Mr Blasbery said.

Cold sore virus can be deadly in a baby’s first six weeks

Colds are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is carried by most people, but is usually dormant.

It can be caught through physical contact, such as kissing or even breastfeeding.

While most adults carry the virus without any health risks, it can be fatal for babies because of their poor immunity.

Those in the first six weeks of life are most at risk.

Although the virus can be notoriously difficult to detect, early signs include a baby who is not feeding, lethargy, fever, drowsiness and unusual crying.

The Royal College of Midwives advises that anyone with a cold sore or symptoms of an impending outbreak should avoid kissing a baby, as HSV is most virulent when the skin is broken.

The judge, Recorder Nicola Daley, said he had breached the security of the victim’s home by breaking in through a window.

She said that while she was lying on the floor trying to protect herself, he repeatedly stomped on her and punched her. She screamed for help and was worried that the attack would not stop.’

Recorder Daley said that when the police arrived they could see the pattern of his trainers on them where he had stamped on them.

In an impact statement, the mother-of-three, who was left with painful bruising and redness, told how the brutal attack had left her feeling ‘paranoid’.

The judge said that the tragic death of her young son ‘was in the argument that day, but that did not justify what you did.’

Maclaren, of Hicks Road, Seaforth, pleaded guilty to burglary involving an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm to Mrs McCormick.

The judge also imposed a five-year ban.

Jeremy Rawson, defending, said the defendant’s son’s death received publicity, including in a magazine and on daytime television, and he spiraled down into the use of drugs and alcohol.

Maclaren has two previous convictions for violence but has never been jailed.

His lawyer said he is ‘remorseful’ and while in custody has applied for two jobs at the prison.

“He says he won’t drink or do drugs again,” Mr Rawson said.

Maclaren had come that day to remonstrate with her about the care of her children, he added.

After Kaiden’s death, the couple wrote to the Home Secretary asking for more information to help expectant mothers and started an e-petition for hospitals to include facts about the virus in leaflets given to new parents.

Kaiden’s parents were shocked to discover that their baby was stricken with the herpes simplex virus, a disease carried by most of the population, who usually sleep.

At the time of Kaiden’s death Maclaren said: ‘I blame myself, but I had no idea.

‘If I had, of course I wouldn’t have been with him and he would still be here today.’

Marie-Claire McCormick said: ‘I asked how was it possible for a baby to have herpes?

‘When he said it was transmitted by the cold virus, I looked at Carl and he instinctively touched his lip. At that moment I saw his heart break in two.

‘Carl just broke down. He was completely devastated and kept saying that he blamed himself.

‘But I never once blamed Carl. All he ever did was shower our baby with love and affection. He had been the perfect father. I hated to see him punish himself.’

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