A father has denied harming his baby after he suffered eight fractures to his limbs and then developed life-threatening septicaemia.
Tony Smith said he and the child’s mother, Jody Simpson, “thought the world of him” and would never harm him. He described Simpson, 24, as “the best mum you could ever think of”.
The baby, also called Tony Smith, was just 41 days old in 2014 when he was found to have suffered the fractures.
Tony Smith and Jody Simpson
“The ongoing effects of his injuries will be considerable and lifelong,” said prosecutor Heather Stangoe. “There is a high risk of disability.”
Miss Stangoe said the parents delayed taking the child to their doctor from their flat in Square Hill Road, Maidstone, after he became ill.
They later told police they were delayed because they were waiting for a plumber to mend a broken boiler.
“Both of us were being gentle with him and very conscious of looking after him,” Smith, 46, told police. “He was our first baby but we were trying our best to look after him.
“We haven’t ever been really rough with him or anything when changing him. Jody has been the best mum you could ever think of and has been really good with him.
“I love Tony and both of us think the world of him. We wouldn’t want nothing to happen to him.”
Smith said he had not thought they would be able to have a child as he had a low sperm count. He was “over the moon”, he said, when Tony was born.
He denied ever losing his temper with him or injuring him.
“He is only a four-week-old baby, mate,” he told officers. “You have got to be careful with them. I thought I was doing the best I could.
“I felt really happy about Tony - having him, looking after him and caring for him. I feel really proud to be a dad.”
In another interview almost two years later, Smith denied ever saying it had all been “a terrible accident”.
“If I did know, I would say,” he claimed. “I thought the world of him and would never hurt a hair on his head.
“I thought Jody was a really good mum. She was a first-time mum, very gentle, very careful. I thought she was brilliant for a first-time mum. I cannot say anything bad against her.”
Told that somebody caused the injuries, Smith replied: “Well it weren’t me. If I knew I would tell you, but how can I tell you something I don’t know myself.”
Both parents, now of Sydney Road, Whitstable, said they took Tony to the doctor when they realised he was not well. He was not feeding and his body was starting to swell.
Smith said when giving evidence he helped with the home delivery on October 8 2014. He said he felt “pleased, panicky and scared, but in a nice way”.
Asked what he considered his role as a father to be, he replied: “To be a loving father and to help with feeds, washing and changing.”
Asked by Ben Irwin, defending, whether he ever had any reason to believe anything was wrong with Tony, he replied: “I thought he had a cold.”
The days-old baby was found to have several fractures. Stock image
He was also asked if he ever thought anybody might have been hurting Tony or if he ever thought Jody would have hurt him. He replied “No” to both questions.
“If I thought anyone was hurting Tony I would have done something about the situation straight away for Tony’s wellbeing,” he said. “My responsibilities were to be a loving father and help.”
Simpson also denied in police interviews she had hurt her son and said her postnatal mental state was “absolutely fine”.
She called Smith a brilliant dad who she could not fault. She was “quite certain”, she said he never lost his temper with the baby. Asked how certain she replied: “99.9 per cent.”
The court heard that health visitors described both parents as loving and caring to their child and meeting his needs.
The prosecutor said when Tony was taken to the GP’s surgery at 41 days he was gravely ill. His eyes were closed and his lower limbs were hard and swollen.
The doctor suspected septicaemia. Tony was taken to Pembury Hospital and then transferred to a specialist unit in London.
“He was in a parlous condition and required multi-organ support in intensive care,” said Miss Stangoe. “On admission, he was drowsy and showed signs of respiratory distress.”
X-rays revealed fractures to both thighbones, both lower legs, the right lower leg and ankle, and fractures to the base of the left thumb and two bones in the big toe.
“It was thought highly likely he would die imminently from multiple organ failure, secondary to his injuries and septicaemia" - Heather Stangoe
“There was no evidence of any underlying bone disorder,” said Miss Stangoe. “A paediatrician and another doctor concluded that his injuries were not accidental.”
The doctor’s view was that the fractures led to the onset of septicaemia. The prognosis was poor.
“It was thought highly likely he would die imminently from multiple organ failure, secondary to his injuries and septicaemia,” said Miss Stangoe.
The child needed a prolonged course of treatment.
Smith and Simpson deny causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child and cruelty to a person under 16.
The trial continues.