Monday, March 4, 2013

Dad on trial for killing 5-week-old daughter (United Kingdom)

Dad is identified as MARK LACKENBY.

Five-week old girl 'died from head injuries suffered while her father watched football'

•Mark Lackenby denies murdering newborn baby daughter Ruby
•Mother Gemma Coates denies attempting to pervert the course of justice
•Ruby died in hospital after she collapsed at home the previous day

By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 15:58 EST, 4 March 2013 | UPDATED: 15:58 EST, 4 March 2013

A five-week-old baby girl died from a head injury allegedly caused by her father as he watched football on television, a court heard today.

Mark Lackenby, from, Goldthorpe, Barnsley, has been charged with murdering his daughter, Ruby, after she collapsed at home and died the following day.

Sheffield Crown Court heard tests revealed the baby suffered brain damage and bleeding around the brain. Doctors also discovered she had two broken ribs caused about a week earlier.

Prosecutor Bryan Cox QC told a jury Lackenby, 32, was alone with the child while its mother, his partner Gemma Coates, had a bath upstairs.

'Mr Lackenby was alone with the girl watching football on television,' said Mr Cox. 'The prosecution case is that Mark Lackenby inflicted the injury that caused the sudden collapse that led to Ruby's death.'

Rail worker Lackenby denies murdering Ruby and causing her grievous bodily harm with intent in the week before her death.

Coates, 31, a former nursery worker, also from Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire, denies attempting to pervert the course of justice by giving a false account to medical staff as to how Ruby came about her injuries.

Mr Cox said an ambulance was called to the defendants' home by Coates at 8.37pm on February 16, 2011. She said the baby was not breathing and her boyfriend was performing CPR.

Ruby died 24 hours later at Sheffield Children's Hospital when her life support was removed.

Investigations found Ruby was a perfectly normal baby with no health problems and there was nothing initially to explain her sudden collapse.

But at post mortem a pathologist found bleeding around the surface of her brain and brain damage 'consistent with non-accidental head injury', according to Mr Cox.

There was also evidence of an earlier assault when two broken ribs were found. This was dated by experts to about a week before the fatal incident and the prosecution said it was 'consistent with very forceful gripping.'

Further bleeding around the brain which probably occurred at the time of the rib fractures was also discovered.

'This bleed, together with the rib fractures, indicated an assault about seven days before death and before the assault that caused her death,' said Mr Cox. 'There were two separate independent episodes of violence.'

The prosecution claim Lackenby was responsible for the broken ribs assault as 'it is inconceivable that two different people inflicted serious assault on Ruby within seven days.'

It is alleged that Coates lied to doctors treating her daughter and later to the police. 'She changed her account as time progressed,' said Mr Cox. 'Her motive in not telling the truth was to protect Mark Lackenby.'

Neither midwives, health visitors or the local GP expressed any concerns over Ruby's care before the tragedy and one professional said 'she seemed to be thriving.'

Paramedic Andrew Dunn found Lackenby performing CPR on Ruby with Coates relaying instructions from the emergency operator on the phone. The baby was 'motionless and blue' and her eyes were fixed and she was not breathing.

Coates told him the baby had awoken and stopped breathing five minutes earlier. She said the child had not fallen.

No external bruises were found on the baby at hospital.

The parents told doctors Ruby had taken her feed, slept then awoken crying at 8.30pm. The baby then went floppy in her arms and stopped breathing, according to Coates.

She said there was no cough or fit and the baby's legs started shaking before she began CPR on the infant. But a day later she changed her account telling another doctor the baby awoke 45 minutes earlier.

Scans at the Children's Hospital revealed the bleeding on the brain and damage to the brain itself.

Further tests after death also showed five small bruises to the back of the skull and one bruise on top which were only visible internally.

Pathologists dated the bleeding on the brain to having been caused 24 hours before death.

In summary, the expert evidence, said Mr Cox, showed the broken ribs had been caused by 'squeezing or gripping with very significant force' and were non-accidental.

Examination of the brain revealed extensive recent surface bleeding 'the most likely cause of this was a traumatic head injury,' he said.

The trial continues.