Violent past of baby murdering dad who said he was possessed by the Devil – Liverpool Echo

A baby murdering dad who said he was possessed by the Devil has a shocking violent past, the ECHO can reveal.

Mihai-Catalin Gulie killed his six-month-old boy Robert Ion by shaking him until he suffered a broken skull and irreversible brain injury.

The 28-year-old knew he had to hold little Robert – who was born with Down’s Syndrome – like he was “porcelain” and not to shake him.

READ MORE: Boy who stabbed man in the heart says it was self defence

But he previously inflicted another brain injury and two broken ribs to the vulnerable child, which were covered up by Robert’s mum.

Gabriela Ion, 35, searched online how to hide signs of the abuse and tried to mask her son’s bruises with toothpaste and an onion.

Gulie was found guilty of murder and Ion convicted of causing or allowing the death of the child when a 14-day trial ended this week.

The jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts against the Romanian couple, of Mersey Road, Widnes, after less than four hours of deliberation.

However, jurors had not been told about Gulie’s history of violence, which saw him deported from the Czech Republic before he came to England.

The ECHO can now publish the details of those disgraceful offences, which involved “the use and threat of violence towards a former partner”.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Gulie and his wife, who also have a two-year-old daughter, moved from their native Romania to Widnes in 2019.

Robert Ion, aged six months, was murdered by his dad Mihai-Catalin Gulie while his mum Gabriela Ion allowed his death.
Robert Ion, aged six months, was murdered by his dad Mihai-Catalin Gulie while his mum Gabriela Ion allowed his death.
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

Robert spent most of his tragic life in hospital and only moved into his family’s home last Christmas.

The jury was told how Gulie violently shook Robert on the morning of February 18 this year, when his wife had nipped out to a local shop.

The defenceless victim died in hospital three days later, when doctors discovered he had suffered a previous assault on around February 7.

Before the defence case began, prosecutors made a “bad character application”, when they argued the jury should know of Gulie’s previous convictions.

Making her ruling, High Court judge Mrs Justice Amanda Yip said Gulie had committed offences in the Czech Republic between December 2014 and March 2015.

She said: “The prosecution seek to admit this evidence, as evidence of Mr Gulie’s propensity for violence and aggression in a domestic context.”

Justice Yip said one offence involved an assault on December 22, 2014 “when the defendant punched his former partner once to the face, causing a wound to the eye, which required stitching”.

The judge said on January 9, 2015, he kicked the victim after requesting money and “when she refused he threatened to stab her”.

She said he “broke into her home and punched her to the head and kicked her arm in front of her two children” on March 6, 2015.

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Justice Yip said an offence of making threats to kill on March 8, 2015 was committed when “he threatened to slit her throat because she had called the police”.

The court heard Gulie received a sentence of eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, on December 21, 2017.

The judge said: “He was deported from the Czech Republic for a period of five years.”

Justice Yip said Gulie didn’t dispute the fact of these convictions or that the allegations were made, but claimed he hadn’t had the opportunity to participate in his trial and was convicted in his absence, without the chance to challenge the victim’s evidence.

Gulie’s lawyers argued the nature of his past offences were fundamentally different to the charge he now faced and it would be prejudicial to his case if they were heard by the jury, who might attach too much significance to them.

Justice Yip said: “I have concluded that the admission of the evidence as part of the prosecution case against the defendant would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that I ought not to admit it.”

The 12 jurors did not hear this evidence, but they were made aware of how Ion had used Google to read how to remove bruises and “kept secret what was going on, until it was too late”.

Nicholas Johnson, QC, prosecuting, also revealed incriminating prison phone calls made by the couple after they were arrested and held on remand.

In one such call on April 4, Ion told her sister that contrary to what she had told hospital staff and police, she was aware her husband had been “shaking and beating” Robert, before she referred to applying toothpaste to the bruises to try and cover them up.

On April 5, Gulie spoke on a call about taking the blame even though he was “innocent”, so he could get out of prison to look after their daughter.

He continually denied allegations that had been made within the family that he had beaten Robert up and thrown him on the bed, but then made the confession “one little slap I gave him on the bum, but I did not shake or throw him in bed,” which he said happened about a month before.

Pictured is Liverpool Crown Court

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In a call on April 11, his wife admitted Robert was helpless and she didn’t defend him, claiming she was in fear of Gulie and didn’t know Robert was so ill.

The jury would later hear Gulie had once “forcefully pushed” her because she hadn’t cooked a meal for him when he got home from work, and that he also once slapped his daughter’s bottom.

In a call on April 12, Gulie stated: “I already told you, I slapped him once on the bottom and indeed I thrown him on the pillows.”

Mr Johnson said this was new information, because Gulie hadn’t in fact admitted throwing Robert onto pillows before.

Mihai-Catalin Gulie (left) and Gabriela Ion (right)
Mihai-Catalin Gulie (left) and Gabriela Ion (right)

The jury heard he was asked about how he had done this and what injuries he may have caused, when he became upset.

He said: “As if the devil possessed me. I don’t know what happened to me at that time… as if the devil entered inside me.”

The couple will be sentenced on November 26.

Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000, while young people can call Childline on 0800 1111.

If a child is in immediate danger, always call 999.

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