7th Dec, 2016

Jury hears of appalling catalogue of injuries to baby

Coventry Editorial 14th Oct, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A NURSE has told a jury how a severely injured baby tensed up and went ‘wide-eyed with fear’ whenever someone went near him or there was a noise in the room.

Horrified medical staff at Coventry’s University Hospital found the six-month-old baby had suffered an appalling catalogue of injuries.

He had more than a dozen fractures to his ribs, severe fractures to bones in his legs and arms, damage to his spine and other injuries, Warwick Crown Court heard.

His 27-year-old mother and her then-partner, aged 22, who are both from Coventry but cannot be named to protect the identity of their alleged victim, have pleaded not guilty to causing him grievous bodily harm with intent.

They also deny cruelty to a child by assaulting, ill-treating, neglecting or exposing him to unnecessary suffering between February and May last year and failing to get treatment for him, and charges of causing or allowing him to suffer serious physical harm by failing to take steps to protect him.

Prosecutor Andrew Wallace said: “It’s a campaign of violence to this child, so the longer it goes on, the more the neglect.  Even on an adult that number of injuries you would have regarded as pretty serious.”

He also said: “These two were living together between February and May 2014 while the child received some horrific injuries that cannot have happened by themselves.

“One or both of these adults has caused those injuries to this five-month-old child.

“The charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent is for you to consider whether each of them separately has caused really serious harm to him, and when they did so intended to cause him really serious harm.

“But that is not the end of it, because when you’re a parent or have caring responsibility for a child, you cannot simply stand by while someone else beats up a helpless child.”

In May last year the baby, just two days short of being six months old, was referred to University Hospital in Coventry with suspected bronchiolitis.

The next day, x-rays revealed he had suffered numerous fractures, with eight different sites of injury from his foot to his arms, and including numerous fractures to his ribs, legs and spine.

Some of the rib fractures were assessed as two to four weeks old.

He also had ‘wedging’ of one of his vertebrae, resulting from compression of the spine or extreme bending – and it was also discovered he had a penetrating injury to his backside.

Kerry Ball, a nursery nurse at the hospital, said: “At first the most notable thing was how pale he was and struggling to breathe.

“The most significant thing that stands out is how pale he was and how scared he was.  He had these very wide eyes.  Whenever you went near him or there was a noise, he looked terrified.

“Even if you were not going near him, if you moved something or there was any noise around him, he would go rigid in the cot and have this wide-eyed expression.”

Asked how the baby behaved, Ms Ball replied: “Distressed.  He seemed very uncomfortable, in pain, and would cry out; and again there was that wide-eyed expression of fear.”

After she treated him for severe nappy rash, she noticed the ‘shocking’ injury to his backside.

She added: “He did not behave like a normal six-month-old baby.  I would expect them to be kicking out and moving around and trying to reach things.

“.. He just lay on his back in the cot, and the only movement was to stiffen up when you went near him.”

The trial continues.