Tuesday, January 21, 2014
A ‘shaken baby’ who died after an alleged Christmas Day attack had brain injuries which suggested she had been assaulted a few days before.
Kimberley Barrett died four days after Christmas 2011 but an illness reported by her mother two weeks earlier may have been caused by an earlier attack, a jury has been told.
Her mother’s former boyfriend James Hunt denies killing the ten-month-old who was taken to hospital unconscious on Boxing Day evening from her home in Spencer Court, Ottery St Mary.
A leading expert in the anatomy of the human brain told Exeter Crown Court that the combination of different injuries he found in Kimberley could not have been caused accidentally.
Dr Safa al Surraj, a consultant neuropathologist at Kings College Hospital in London, said Kimberley’s brain was effectively waterlogged as a result of it being starved of oxygen.
He said there was also evidence of two different non accidental injuries which suggested an earlier episode.
The jury have already heard from Kimberley’s mother Hayley Bradshaw how the baby had become ill on December 12 after she had left her in Hunt’s care while she worked at a local Coop store.
The child’s symptoms were of vomiting and diarrhoea and the family doctor diagnosed gastro enteritis at the time but Hayley later noticed finger sized bruises on Kimberley’s stomach.
Hunt, aged 30, of Pellinore Road, Exeter, denies murdering Kimberley at her mother’s flat in Spencer Court, Ottery, in Christmas 2011.
Dr al Surraj told the jury he examined Kimberley’s brain after her death and found evidence of clotting as well as bleeding which suggested an earlier episode.
He said there had been significant swelling of the brain and in increase in fluid content, which he said was like waterlogging and was caused by the injuries.
He also found the edge of the brain had been flattened against the skull as a result of the swelling.
He said: “These are all features of non accidental injury. The subdural bleeding did not cause death but is a marker of what happened.
“The evidence of bruising to the back of the head is an indication of impact and in such a complex case if it powerful supporting evidence of changes that happened in the brain.
“My findings have to be taken as part of a whole jigsaw which is consistent with non accidental injury.”
He rejected a theory put forward by defence experts that Kimberley may have died as a result of a blood clot inside the veins in the brain.
He said the only clotting he saw occurred after death and could not have occurred when Kimberley was alive because the clots had not clung to the walls of the vein.
The jury have already heard from another doctor that the fatal brain injuries may have been caused by Kimberley being shaken.
The trial continues.