Baby murder: dad on trial

Richard Barnes
Richard Barnes

A FATHER who had been drinking all afternoon stamped on or crushed his eight-week-old daughter’s head, a court has heard.

Richard Barnes, 27, of Crowther Street, Castleford, went on trial at Leeds Crown Court yesterday accused of murdering his child, Grace Mya Barnes. He denies the charge.

Richard Mansell, prosecuting, told a jury Barnes carried out the attack while left alone with the baby for 20 minutes while his partner Stephanie Rudd took her mother home.

He said: “It was during this short period of time that Barnes inflicted the catastrophic head injuries to his daughter, where or how he did it we cannot be sure, however, the drink he had consumed almost certainly played a part.

“Either he inflicted the injuries by striking one or more blows to the rear of Grace’s head, or by kicking or stamping, or he may have crushed her skull by applying force to the front of her head while the rear of her head was pressed against a hard surface, such as a floor.

“Either way when he inflicted these injuries he can only have intended to cause her really serious bodily harm and we say he is guilty of her murder.”

Police launched an investigation after the infant was admitted to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield on November 19 last year with serious injuries. Barnes was arrested and charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent but the charge was changed to murder after Grace died in the early hours of November 24. A postmortem gave her cause of death as severe head injuries.

The court heard paramedics who were called to the house at 8.30pm saw Grace was grey and floppy, and said Barnes claimed she had vomited when he was feeding her, and in picking her up her head flopped forward and clashed with his head.

Mr Mansell told the court there was evidence Barnes had a drinking problem, and on the day of the attack he had started drinking around noon, consuming at least six miniature bottles of spirits and two beers.

He also said “particularly disturbing” video footage Barnes had recorded on his mobile phone at around 12.40pm on the day of the attack “suggests the effect of the alcohol may have contributed to his violent assault on Grace”.

The jury heard how after the attack Barnes went out to get more alcohol. Mr Mansell said: “Given what he had just done, Barnes’ first reaction was to leave the house and the seriously injured Grace and walk to the shop. Here he purchased another two miniature bottles of vodka.”

The trial continues.