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London Free Press
JANE SIMS, Free Press Justice Reporter
Struggling to deal with the baby’s death, she had hoped the father would be convicted of murder.
Westley Solomon’s nursery is still set up, anticipating his return from the hospital to the loving arms of his family. But his mother, Annette Ridout, 20, knows “the sharp pain that never goes away” in her heart means her baby is never coming home.
Nineteen months after the three-week-old was fatally injured at the hands of his father, Sean Madott-Solomon, 21, she continues to grieve, stuck in a place full of rage and sadness.
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to move on and become a normal person because I’m not normal anymore,” she said through tears yesterday.
Westley died of a massive brain injury after Madott-Solomon hit him on the one and only night he had sole care of the baby at his grandmother’s London townhouse.
Westley’s crib is made up in the tidy room of Ridout’s parents’ home. His books and stuffed animals are neatly on the shelves, near the photographs of he and his joyful mother at his birth.
More than 100 photos have been placed in an album. A memory box contains many other mementos, including his baptism bib, some baby soap and sad photos of his last days in hospital.
“I have a child that I can’t touch or kiss or love or hug . . . I don’t know how I’m supposed to wake up in the morning and try to think of the future because I don’t know what the future holds anymore,” Ridout said.
The latest kick to the stomach, Ridout said, was Wednesday’s verdict at Madott-Solomon’s trial where he was found guilty of manslaughter and not guilty of second-degree murder.
Madott-Solomon, who remains in custody, is to be sentenced Nov.18.
Ridout had pegged a murder conviction as a place to start anew, to appease that deep guilt she feels, having promised her precious son she’d protect him from harm.
The wait for the jury Tuesday night felt like the painful wait at the hospital all over again when Westley lingered on life support. And the verdict “felt like the jury killed him again,” she said.
Ridout sees clearly now her relationship to the man she’d promised to marry was poisoned by possessiveness and jealousy, leading her to believe her son’s death wasn’t nearly as random as the jury believed.
“Sean was a very good actor. I thought he was a good person and I was easily mistaken,” she said.
“Sean was the jealous type. He was jealous if guys looked at me, or if anybody took my attention away,” she said, adding he would “freak out” if he didn’t get his way.
“I believe he was jealous of Westley,” she said.
At the start of their relationship, she said she didn’t see those traits, attracted to his ambition. He was working two part-time jobs and had a college diploma.
They broke up. But once she went to him with news of her pregnancy and her intention to keep the baby, she said she asked him if he wanted to be part of her child’s life.
“I was trying to make it work because I never had a dad growing up,” she said. “I just kept thinking ‘I want a father for my baby and I’m going to try to make it work as much as I can for my child.’ I wanted Sean to be in the picture so bad.”
By all reports, he had the potential to be a good father. He had experience with younger siblings and knew how to change and feed a baby.
As the relationship and the pregnancy progressed, there were disturbing developments. Ridout said Madott-Solomon would argue over “silly things” as petty as her spending time with her mother, Carole Landry.
At least twice a week, he’d threaten to kill himself, his emotional blackmail to keep Ridout by his side, she said.
Madott-Solomon told Ridout he never intended to carry out his threats.
Ridout said he was taking anti-depressants for his suicidal tendencies, but they didn’t seem to quell his moodiness.
After Westley was born, he never left Ridout alone, she said. One of their arguments was over his resentment Ridout didn’t consult him when she changed Westley’s formula, she said.
“When you’re in love, you try to make it work,” she said.
He’d moved into Ridout’s home to help look after the baby for the first two weeks. By then, he was jobless and turning down job offers.
Ridout’s parents thought he was getting too comfortable and turned down his request to move in permanently, she said.
Landry and husband Fred Waugh said they wanted him to find work and be self-sufficient.
It took three days for Landry to get Ridout alone and talk about their decision. Madott-Solomon left in a huff.
The couple agreed to an arrangement allowing each to look after Westley on alternate nights, she said. Madott-Solomon’s first night ended in tragedy.
She said he called her seven times in two hours, wanting her to bring the baby to him.
“I would have not left Westley with Sean that night if (his grandmother) wasn’t there,” Ridout said. “I knew that if Sean had any kind of problem, she was a stairway away. I was 10 minutes away.”
That night, he threatened suicide again. The police talked him out of using the kitchen knife on his wrists.
Ridout said she’s troubled Madott-Solomon said Westley cried for four hours straight — something he never did in her care. She’s more disturbed his grandmother somehow slept through the crying.
“All babies cry. It’s not like he cried for hours and hours — he cried when he needed something. And it wasn’t hard to find that,” she said.
Ridout said she can’t believe Madott-Solomon wouldn’t know hitting a baby in the head had the potential to kill.
And following it up with 15 spanks, leaving the baby badly bruised, tells her he knew what he was doing, she said.
“I would have never thought he would have done that. Who would hit a newborn?”
She wonders why it took an hour to call an ambulance after he handed the baby to his grandmother and why he called his mother before calling her.
After Westley was taken off life support, Madott-Solomon tried to contact her from jail the night the family was at the funeral home and sending her a six-page letter three weeks later, she said.
Ridout wants another baby to love like Westley, but fears her own instincts, saying she was so wrong about her child’s father.
“I’m scared to trust anybody. I’m scared to meet someone and fall in love and have a child, because now I don’t know my judgement.”
All she has now is an empty nursery and pain.
“I don’t have hope, I’ve lost it all,” she said. “I know I’d be a good mom and my chance was robbed.”