A couple murdered their baby after she was released into their care against the advice of hospital staff who feared neglect but were overruled by social services, a court heard.
Tiny Lily-Mai Saint George was just ten weeks old when her Haringey parents Lauren Saint George and Darren Hurrell, both 25, allegedly shook her to death.
A post mortem found she died from a serious head injury and had also suffered 18 rib breaks, two fractures in her right leg and severe bruising.
Wood Green Crown Court heard this morning Lily-Mai was born prematurely in November 2017 and spent the first two months of her life in Barnet Hospital.
Staff were worried Saint George and Hurrell – who had been homeless – were incapable of looking after her and made referrals to social services.
Neonatal sister Deborah Hodge said Lily-Mai’s mother had told staff that she ‘hated’ the noises Lily-Mai made and wished she would ‘cry instead of groaning’.
Staff held meetings with them on January 16, 2018, and six days later where they expressed ‘concerns about the possibility of neglect’.
They were so worried they even raised the possibility of a mother and baby unit to allow closer supervision of Lily-Mai and her parents.
But the baby was released into their care on January 25 after the Haringey Council social services said it would not be possible.
Six days later Saint George made a 999 saying Lily-Mai had stopped breathing and was unresponsive. She died in Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital on February 2.
The mother and Hurrell both deny murder, manslaughter, causing or allowing the death of a child and cruelty to a person under 16 years old.
Darren Hurrell arrives at Wood Green Crown Court, London, where he and Lauren Saint George are charged with the murder
Lauren Saint George arrives at Wood Green Crown Court, London, for the start of the trial
Prosecuting the case Sally O’Neill QC said of the 999 call: ‘Lauren Saint George said that their baby was not breathing, that she was premature, had anaemia and had gone white and floppy so she thought her anaemia had kicked in.
‘Darren Hurrell said that she had a heartbeat but wasn’t breathing and later that she was trying to gasp for air.
‘Lauren Saint George said she wasn’t responsive’ like she’s not opening her eyes or crying. ‘
‘The paramedics arrived very shortly afterwards and found the baby cyanosed which means blue around her lips and nose and very pale. She wasn’t breathing or moving but had a pulse. She was given emergency ventilation.
‘When asked what had happened, Darren Hurrell said that he had picked the baby up from her cot because she was crying and her head fell back and she became floppy and stopped breathing.
‘He said he had performed CPR on her and said the baby had been pale and unsettled for a couple of days and not taking her milk properly.’
Lily-May was taken to North Middlesex Hospital where a CT scan revealed bleeding in her brain, jurors heard.
She was then transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital for a neuro-surgical procedure and was found with brain haemorrhages and areas of brain death.
Lily-Mai was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital where she died on February 2, 2018
Darren Hurrell and Lauren Saint George, both 25, deny murder, manslaughter and cruelty
Her condition is said to have worsened and doctors decided not to resuscitate her.
On February 2 February treatment was withdrawn and she was pronounced dead.
A post-mortem examination revealed recent haemorrhages in Lily-Mai’s brain and spinal cord as well as damage caused by lack of oxygen or blood, the court heard.
Pathologists also found 18 rib fractures and fractures in the two lower bones of her right leg.
These injuries were all said to have been recent. Bruises were also discovered on the baby’s body of a nature consistent with impact or gripping, jurors were told.
Ms O’Neill said: ‘The conclusion… was that this was an example of a fatal head injury of the shaking or impact type and he concluded that the cause of death was head injury.
‘The injuries were said to be in keeping with suspected physical abuse.
‘It is the Crown’s case that these two defendants, Lily-Mai’s parents, were responsible for her death and that these fatal injuries were caused to Lily-Mai by forceful shaking shortly before that 999 call only six days after she had been discharged into their care. ‘
Hospital and care staff had raised serious concerns about Lily-Mai being discharged into her parents’ care, jurors heard.
Several members of hospital staff made referrals to social services, the court was told.
Neonatal staff held meetings with the parents in the lead up to Lily-Mai’s discharge, on 16 January and six days later.
‘At both meetings the Neonatal Team expressed their concerns about the possibility of neglect and asked about the possibility of a mother and baby unit to allow closer supervision of Lily-Mai and assessment of the parents’ ability to meet her needs, ‘Ms O’ Neill said.
Lead social worker Theresa Ferguson, from Haringey Child and Family Services, allegedly told the hospital team that this was not an option.
A report by neonatal sister Deborah Hodge alleged that Saint George had told staff that she ‘hated’ the noises Lily-Mai made and wished she would ‘cry instead of groaning’.
Ms O’Neill said: ‘Almost all of the professionals at the hospital were opposed to the baby being discharged into the parents’ care at home and had expressed their concern about the parents’ ability to meet the baby’s emotional, developmental and physical needs on many occasions to the Social Services.
‘Nonetheless, the decision was made to discharge the baby into the care of her parents and the hospital had to accept that and deal with the situation as best they could.’
The trial continues.