Doctor tells jury of baby violence

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A seven-week-old baby was subjected to “vigorous shaking” and “substantial force” in the days before she died, a court heard.

Dr Daniel du Plessis told a jury today how Kristal Davison suffered severe brain damage leading up to her death, including bleeding, swelling and torn tissue.

Her parents, Jessica Hopkinson, 20, and Lee Davison, 29, are both standing trial at Leeds Crown Court this week and deny causing or allowing the death of their daughter last April.

Dr du Plessis, consultant neuropathologist, described how Kristal was the victim of three “episodes” of trauma during her short life.

He said there was evidence of bleeding on both sides of the brain, ranging from two to three weeks old and 48 hours before death which indicated “severe shaking”, tears in the brain, and a further “fatal head injury” inflicted 24 hours before she was admitted to hospital.

Prosecutor Julian Goose, QC, said: “From what you have described, is it fair to say that some of the findings are consistent with symptoms indicating severe shaking?”

Dr du Plessis said: “Yes, the severe brain swelling and the bleeding on both side of the brain.”

Mr Goose asked: “Turning to the fatal injury, can you give some indication of how the injury might have affected the behaviour of the deceased?”

Dr du Plessis replied: “The injuries would have had a devastating affect, it’s the main injury leading eventually to death.

“The child will be irritable and look unwell due to significant pain. If the child doesn’t go into a coma straight away, they remain conscious but they don’t feed well, they vomit and get progressively worse.”

The court heard earlier this week how the defendants had struggled to feed Kristal in the days before her death as she was repeatedly being sick.

Peter Griffiths QC, for Davison, asked: “So far as the mechanism of the [fatal] injury is concerned, could a fracture of that sort be accounted for by a child’s head not being supported and banging it into a chair?”

Dr du Plessis replied: “No.”

Mr Griffiths said: “In your view, the sort of injuries in this case are the result of accelerated head injury with significant force to the child?”

Dr du Plessis replied: “Yes.”

An examination of Kristal’s body also revealed she had suffered fractures to her legs, ribs and skull while in the sole care of her parents at Ashleigh Avenue, Pontefract.