Couple "laughed, joked, and played on their phones" while their 22-month-old baby lay dead in hospital bed
Abigail Leatherland and Thomas Curd were charged with murder, manslaughter by gross negligence and causing or allowing the death of a child for the murder of little Eve
A mother and her boyfriend were allegedly "laughing and joking" while her 22-month-old baby lay dead in a hospital bed before the pair was accused of murdering the child. Eve was allegedly poisoned by Abigail Leatherland, 26, and Thomas Curd, 31, in a bid to cover up a series of beatings, the Daily Mail reported.
A court heard Thursday that while little Eve lay lifeless in the hospital, the couple "laughed, joked, and played on their phones." The duo has since been charged with murder, manslaughter by gross negligence and causing or allowing the death of a child at Truro Crown Court, Cornwall, U.K. However, both have maintained they were not responsible for the administration of codeine or the injuries inflicted on Eve.
The 22-month-old infant sustained a fractured skull, broken ribs, and a lacerated liver in the days leading up to her death, but her mother and her boyfriend were "wrapped up in their own superficial world of video games, TV, texts, selfies and Facebook" as she lay dying in her bassinet a few feet away.
According to the prosecution, at least one of the defendants is responsible for physically harming and then sedating the child with a fatal dose of codeine.
Sophie Brock, a sister at the Derriford Hospital emergency department, told the jury how the resuscitation department had been pre-alerted by an ambulance crew about Eve's arrival on October 5, 2017. Brock said Eve already "looked dead" upon arrival. "She was very pale and I noticed bruising around the nappy line," she added. "The bruising looked a couple of days old and there was also what looked like a splayed hand around the waist area."
According to the nurse, after multiple attempts to resuscitate the baby, an anesthetist tried to open her jaw. However, she found that her jaw, as well as her limbs, had become "very rigid" as rigor mortis had already set in.
Brock said that Abigail initially seemed physically distressed when she and Curd were told that the outlook wasn't good. When the pair were taken to the relatives' room and briefed about the process, they allegedly asked to go for a cigarette.
"The doctor asked for their history and Leatherland said that the children didn't see their biological father," Brock said.
"The length of their relationship came up and they said they've been together a while and wanted a baby so had been to a family planning meeting. They told the doctor he (Curd) had only moved in at the weekend but they'd been together a while. They said that Eve had been genuinely unwell and that she was tired, lethargic and sleeping a lot."
"Tom explained that on the day he put Eve back to bed at 9:30 am and Abigail woke up at 10:30 am but didn't check Eve," he continued.
"The next check was five minutes before the 999 call. The family friend Camille came in and they asked again if they could go for a cigarette. They came back smiling and laughing away to themselves and that frustrated me slightly. They asked for a cigarette again and I was quite firm and abrupt with them and said no. It was seconds between cigarettes."
Brock realized something was not right when she noticed a bloodshot area in Eve's eye - a condition associated with a non-accidental injury — and subsequently notified the police. Furthermore, Eve was very slim for her age, was pale, and had dirt under her fingernails, Brock told prosecuting barrister Sean Brunton QC.
Addressing the court, specialist pediatric sister Charlotte Durrant recounted how she explained to the couple that Eve, who was right in front of them, was going to die despite their best efforts, but Abigail simply "scrolled through her phone at the bedside." On the other hand, Curd was reportedly "very pale, agitated and shaky."
The trial continues.