A doting dad whose kiss led to the heart-breaking death of his baby son spiralled into a self-destructive life of drink and drugs culminating in a terrifying attack on his former partner.
Carl Maclaren, 44, blamed himself after he unwittingly passed on the cold sore virus, herpes simplex, to his premature infant 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 which most adults carry without ever knowing about it.
A court heard today that he had trouble coming to terms with the death of Kaiden, whose life support system was switched off after he struggled for life in hospital for six weeks.
During the first Covid lockdown Maclaren began drinking heavily again which was the beginning of the end of his relationship with his partner, his children’s mum, Marie Clare McCormick, 37.
Liverpool Crown Court was told that he broke into her home following the end of their 12-year-old relationship earlier this year while she was resting on her bed upstairs on the afternoon of May 11.
She became afraid after hearing banging downstairs and Maclaren then came into her room shouting at her and calling her ‘a slag’ and accusing her of being with someone else, said Paul Blasbery, prosecuting.
The court heard he held her by the hair with one hand and began punching her with his other hand causing her to fall to the floor.
Kaiden McCormick pictured in hospital with his mother Marie Clare McCormick and father Carl Maclaren
Kiss of death: Baby Kaiden McCormick died after contracting a cold virus which he caught when he was given a loving kiss by his father Carl Maclaren (right)
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
She instinctively rolled herself into a ball to try to protect herself and he stamped on her in the direction of her face and head.
Mr Blasbery said: ‘She was screaming for help and she was terrified the assault would not stop and genuinely thought she was going to be killed.’
The court heard he left the property in Swifts Lane, Netherton, Bootle, shouting, ‘Watch, I’m going to get those kids taken off you.’
She waited a while and then went downstairs and on seeing her bloodied face asked a friend to collect her children from school so they did not see her injuries.
She then rang the police.
At 4.45 pm while she was waiting for the police Maclaren came back smelling strongly of alcohol and slurring his words saying that he was sorry before he was arrested, said Mr Blasbery.
Cold sore virus can be lethal in a baby’s first six weeks
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is carried by most people, but usually lies 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.
While the virus can be notoriously hard to detect, early signs include a baby not feeding, drowsiness, fever, floppiness and unusual crying.
The Royal College of Midwives recommends 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.
Jailing 44-year-old Maclaren for three years the judge, Recorder Nicola Daley, said that he had violated the safety 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 ‘stamped on her repeatedly and punched her. She was screaming for help and was terrified that the assault would not stop.’
Recorder Daley said that when the police arrived they could see the pattern of his trainers on her where he had stamped on her.
In an impact statement the mother-of-three, who was left with painful bruises and reddening, told how she had been left feeling ‘paranoid’ by the callous attack.
The judge said that the tragic death of their young son ‘featured in the argument that day but that did not give you justification for what you did.’
Maclaren, of Hicks Road, Seaforth, pleaded guilty to burglary involving an attempt to inflict grievous bodily harm on Ms McCormick.
The judge also imposed a five year restraining order.
Jeremy Rawson, defending, said the death of the defendant’s son received publicity including in a magazine and on daytime tv and he spiralled down into the use of drugs and alcohol.
Maclaren has two previous convictions involving violence but had never received a jail sentence.
His lawyer said he is ‘remorseful’ and while on remand has applied for two jobs in prison.
‘He says he is not going to drink again or take drugs,’ said Mr Rawson.
Maclaren had gone round that day to remonstrate with her over their children’s care, he added.
After Kaiden’s death the couple wrote to the home secretary asking for more information to begin to expectant mums and started an e-petition for hospitals to include facts about the virus on leaflets given to new parents.
Kaiden’s parents had been shocked to discover their baby had been struck down with the herpes simplex virus, a disease carried by most of the population, that usually lies dormant.
At the time of Kaiden’s death Maclaren said: ‘I blame myself but I had no idea.
‘Obviously if I had I wouldn’t have gone near him and he’d still be here today.’
Marie-Claire McCormick said: ‘I asked how it was possible for a baby to have herpes?
‘When he said it was transmitted via the cold sore virus I looked at Carl and he instinctively touched his lip. In that moment I saw his heart break in two.
‘Carl just broke down. He was totally distraught and kept saying he blamed himself.
‘But I never once blamed Carl. All he had ever done was shower our baby with love and affection. He had been the perfect father. I hated seeing him punish himself.’