Father goes on trial accused of murdering his baby daughter
- Credit: Brittany Woodman, Archant Norfolk
A man has gone on trial accused of the murder of his baby daughter who suffered "an appalling catalogue of injuries", a court has heard.
Christopher Easey, 31, called emergency services because his three-month-old daughter Eleanor was "struggling to breathe".
Paramedics who attended Eleanor's Morton-on-the-Hill home, near Lenwade, at about 8.25pm on December 18 2019, found the baby "pale, floppy and lethargic" with her eyes "half-open and glazed".
The toddler’s heartbeat was also erratic and she was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where she was found to have "significant head injuries" including bleeding around the brain.
She was transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where, despite treatment she died on December 20 2019 as a result of a "catastrophic brain injury that was incompatible with life".
It was later found she had suffered an "appalling catalogue of injuries" including "several head injuries" and 31 rib fractures and five sites of fracture on her limbs.
Eleanor was also found to be a "poorly-nourished infant".
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Sally Howes, QC, opening the prosecution case on Thursday (January 13) said it was the crown's case Eleanor died as a result of an "inflicted, non-accidental injury".
She said Eleanor was murdered by her father Christopher Easey while her mother, Carly Easey, allowed the death to occur and had "failed to protect this vulnerable young child".
Christopher Easey told police he thought Eleanor's injury arose from when he performed an emergency brake as he drove back from dropping his wife at work for a shift at a pub.
"He said a car pulled out in front of him which caused him to brake suddenly from 50mph down to 5mph," Ms Howes said.
"He heard a squeal from Eleanor. As soon as he was able to do so, he pulled over on the side of the road to check her. She seemed unharmed, he then drove straight home."
He said he found Eleanor "slumped forwards in her bouncy chair" later that evening and called an ambulance, Ms Howes said.
Christopher Easey, of Ely Road, Little Thetford, Ely, has been charged with the murder of his three-month-old daughter on December 20 2019.
He also faces charges of cruelty to a person under 16 between September 12 2019 and December 20 2019.
His wife, and Eleanor's mother, Carly Easey, 36, of Old Roman Bank, Terrington St Clement, is facing a charge of causing or allowing the death of a child between September 12 2019 and December 20 2019 as well as cruelty to a person under 16 between the same dates.
Both defendants have denied all charges and have gone on trial at Norwich Crown Court.
Mother had 'concealed pregnancy'
The court heard the couple got together in 2016 having met on a dating website used by those in the rural community, called Muddy Matches.
At the time Carly Easey was a yard assistant at a stables and Christopher Easey was a pig stockman, Ms Howes said, and they married in 2018.
Carly Easey, who suffered a miscarriage in November 2018, gave birth to Eleanor on September 12 2019 after having gone to hospital with "severe stomach cramps".
Ms Howes said it was considered a “concealed pregnancy” as she had not considered herself to be pregnant nor had she been preparing for it nor had she told any healthcare professional. The case was referred to the authorities.
Hospital staff discovered she was about 37 weeks pregnant although Carly said she "did not feel ready for the baby".
The baby was swiftly delivered at the QEH "slightly prematurely" on September 12 2019 with the risk of any injury from birth "minimal".
Carly lost a lot of blood during the birth and was taken to the hospital's intensive care unit as a precaution while Eleanor was closely monitored and taken to the neo-natal unit.
She appeared to be “anxious” about coping with pregnancy and motherhood and was identified as needing some early help and support.
But hospital staff were concerned as Carly “didn’t want to seem to want to care for Eleanor”.
There were also concerns about Christopher Easey who had told a member of hospital staff he was a vet "and compared his job to hers".
There were concerns about the couple “who had a worrying tendency to live in their own self-deluded world” and hardly went to visit their new baby while it was on the neo-natal ward. A child in need plan was subsequently put in place with the family being allocated a social worker.
After being discharged from hospital the couple took Eleanor home in a car seat they had been given which had part of the head support missing.
They were visited by health and social workers after being allowed home where they had two "very boisterous dogs" about.
Eleanor was referred to hospital by a doctor after reports of bruises seen on the baby's face had been reported by health professionals visiting the family.
The jury panel of 14, including seven women and seven men, also heard Eleanor would be left in her car seat in the car or in a cot "unattended" by her parents.
Ms Howes said she was also given "squash" and ate "custard creams and lemon cheesecake".
The trial, which is expected to last for up to six weeks, continues.