Case dropped against Brisbane stepdad accused over toddler’s death

A man in custody for more than two years accused of killing his 16-month-old stepson will walk free after prosecutors dropped charges.

Aaron Harley James was committed to stand trial charged with the murder of Jaylen, who died in a hospital in January 2022.

He pleaded not guilty to manslaughter when prosecutors presented a new indictment to the Brisbane Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Jaylen Priest died in hospital on January 8, 2022 (Facebook)

After an adjournment, the Crown said it would not proceed with charges against James.

Evidence suggested Jaylen’s death was an awful tragedy, Justice Peter Callaghan told jurors who were discharged without proceedings getting under way.

There was no evidence of violence or mistreatment by James against the child, Justice Callaghan said.

“The evidence that you would have heard would have established that there was a loving relationship between Mr James and Jaylen.”

There was no build up to Jaylen suffering the injuries, with James having arrived home from work a few minutes before.

It was a wet day, there was water on a hard floor and the boy slipped while running, the evidence of those living in the house suggested.

He hit his head, suffering a fractured skull and brain bleed.

James attended to the boy, with an ambulance being called immediately.

Justice Callaghan said photos showed the injury to the boy’s skull was consistent with a particularly shaped table leg.

Paramedics were called to a house at Burpengary, north of Brisbane, on December 30, 2021 in relation to the welfare of the boy, police said earlier.

The boy was taken to hospital in a critical condition and died about a week later.

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