Jul 1 2011A MOTHER on trial for the manslaughter of her baby claimed the youngster was strangled when her bib slipped, a court heard.
Jodie Leigh Pick, denies unlawfully killing seven-week-old Courtney Jacques at home in Broughton Astley, on May 1 2009.
Opening the prosecution case at Leicester Crown Court on Tuesday, Sally Howes QC said the baby was born six-and-a-half-weeks premature and spent 13 days in a hospital neonatal unit.
“She made good progress, gained weight satisfactorily and gave no cause for concern,” she said.
But, added Miss Howes, Pick was concerned that the baby vomited after food – and there had been times when the youngster appeared to stop breathing.
She said: “Various friends and members of the family witnessed such episodes.”
Miss Howes said the cause was not known and the child’s mother seemed to have the episodes under control.
A doctor, worried that the vomiting might result in dehydration, referred the baby to Leicester Royal Infirmary. No sign of dehydration was found and the baby was discharged but, added the prosecutor, “interestingly” no doctor at the hospital was told about the breathing problem.
On the day the baby died, her mother returned from the garden and found her “apparently lifeless” in her Moses basket with her bib around her neck.
“She suffered a catastrophic collapse and, despite all the efforts of the staff at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, they were unable to resuscitate and Courtney died that same day.”
Twenty-four-year-old Pick, who has two other children, slapped the youngster’s back to try and revive her, and called the baby’s father. Courtney was due to spend the weekend in Skegness.
Pick told a 999 operator: “My baby’s dead. She was in her Moses basket but I sat her up because she chokes on her sick.
“Her bib strangled her and I can’t get her to breathe.”
Miss Howes said: “It is very likely that the baby had been strangled by her bib. The operator talked her through steps to revive her.”
Paramedics took the baby to hospital, accompanied in the ambulance by her mother. She was not breathing and had no detectable pulse.
Pick told an emergency care practitioner she “went out to put the washing out” and found Courtney had collapsed when she returned.
The baby died later that morning.
A pathologist found “no natural cause of death,” added Miss Howes. Experts carried out further tests, which revealed the baby had a combination of head, brain and spinal cord injuries, together with an eye injury to the retina “in keeping with a non-accidental slap injury.”
Miss Howes said there were “tell-tale signs” from the post-mortem that would indicate it is “highly likely that the cause of that combination of things is as a result of shaking.”
During a police interview, Pick suggested her daughter had vomited and collapsed – and she shook her to revive her.
Miss Howes said pathologists’ opinion “is that although shaking might account for some injuries” evidence does not support the account given by Pick that her daughter collapsed.
The barrister said if Pick shook the baby in an attempt to revive her that was not unlawful killing. “However, if Jodie Pick due to momentary loss of temper did shake Courtney, that’s unlawful.
“She does not have to intend to kill her. The fact that Courtney died is sufficient.”
Miss Howes told the jury: “The Crown’s case was that there was indeed an unlawful killing. Courtney had not collapsed.
“You have to ask yourselves has the prosecution satisfied you so that you are sure that the defendant did not shake [the baby] if an effort to resuscitate. In other words, are you sure that Courtney collapsed as a result of the shaking?”
Health visitor and qualified midwife Leigh Gregory, who is employed by Leicestershire Partnership Trust and works from Orchard Medical Practice at Broughton Astley, told the jury about Courtney and the family’s history.
“There was no suggestion of any violence between the children and the mother of the children”, she said.
“Apart from the fact that Courtney was premature, there were no other concerns.”
Pick did not attend court on Wednesday due to illness.
Judge Michael Pert QC discharged the jury until today, when the trial is due to resume.