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Sheppey: Neighbour tells of mum Katherine Cox's frantic screams after baby collapses at home

A mother-of-nine repeatedly asked her boyfriend what he had done after her tragic young baby collapsed at their home, a court heard.

Bonnie Boulton rushed to her neighbour’s home on the Isle of Sheppey after being told five-month-old Eli Cox was seriously ill.

Katherine Cox’s boyfriend Danny Shepherd, known as Pickle, was pressing down on the baby’s chest in a bedroom.

Danny Shepherd and Katherine Cox. Picture: Andy Payton.
Danny Shepherd and Katherine Cox. Picture: Andy Payton.

Mrs Boulton told a jury at Maidstone Crown Court: “Kathy kept shouting: ‘Pickle, what have you done?’ That’s the main thing she was repeating. She was frantic. She was hysterical.”

She demonstrated in a loud voice as she added: “The main thing I remember is: ‘Pickle, what have you done?’ Almost shouting it she was. Everyone there would have heard it.”

Mrs Boulton was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of Shepherd, 25, and 33-year-old Cox, who deny causing or allowing the death of a child between April 12 and 28 last year and causing or allowing physical harm to a child.

They also deny possessing the Class B drug amphetamine on April 14.

The prosecution allege they were both responsible for the death of Eli from a “catastrophic” brain injury, a court heard.

He was found to have 28 fractures to bones in his body and he had also been exposed to drugs at his home in Lapwing Close in Minster.

Prosecutor Jennifer Knight said Eli suffered extensive brain damage consistent with shaking and caused by a prolonged period of insufficient oxygen to the brain.

He had multiple fractures to bones of varying ages.

Katherine Cox and Danny Shepherd have been charged with two counts of causing or allowing the death of a child, and one count of possession of a class B drug
Katherine Cox and Danny Shepherd have been charged with two counts of causing or allowing the death of a child, and one count of possession of a class B drug

Miss Knight said it suggested the injuries were inflicted on many different occasions leading up to the child’s death.

His final collapse came on April 13 and he died two weeks later.

Mrs Boulton said she had visited the house earlier in the day and Eli seemed to be alright.

When she returned later after hearing the baby was unwell she went upstairs and saw that Shepherd, who is not the father, putting “a lot of pressure” on his chest.

“My intuition was that it was not right,” she said.

“He looked like he was in a state of shock. We all were.

“He did say: ‘She is going to blame me for this.’ He was saying it out loud. He said: ‘I am going to get the blame for this.’

Mrs Boulton, a mum-of-six, said she put her finger in Eli’s mouth to make sure there was no obstruction.

She went to look for another neighbour, Maryann Davies, who was a first aider. She arrived and went straight upstairs.

“Kathy was on the phone to the operator,” Mrs Boulton continued. “I took the phone. I started shouting: ‘Where’s the ambulance? What’s taking so long?

Danny Shepherd and Katherine Cox outside Maidstone Crown Court. Picture: Andy Payton.
Danny Shepherd and Katherine Cox outside Maidstone Crown Court. Picture: Andy Payton.

“I wasn’t very nice. The operator told me to calm down. I couldn’t calm down.”

She went downstairs where there was “a lot of commotion”. Cox was frantic.

Mrs Boulton said ambulance staff wanted to get moving to get Eli to hospital, but Cox was looking for her phone and keys.

“She was waiting for Pickle,” she said.

“She said she wouldn’t leave without him.”

Mrs Boulton admitted that she had taken amphetamines with Cox while they were decorating.

“I am pretty sure it was only once,” she said.

"I didn’t see them drinking.”

Cox’s distressing 999 call was played to jurors in which she was screaming that her baby had stopped breathing.

St John Ambulance volunteer and neighbour Maryann Davies performed CPR on Eli until medical staff arrived and took over.

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

She described the scene as “chaotic and manic” and agreed that Cox was in a “state”.

She said of the delay in Cox going to hospital with Eli: “Any mother would have gone, just gone in the ambulance and said: ‘Let’s go, let’s get there.’

“You would get straight in the ambulance - that’s your baby’s life.

“I chased her around it. I was saying: ‘Just get in the ambulance, you need to go’.”

Mrs Davies, a riding instructor, said Shepherd was giving two-handed adult CPR to Eli when she arrived at the four-bedroomed house and she told him to stop, knowing it was wrong.

When he was told Eli the baby had to be on the floor, she said, he grabbed him by his arm and leg and pulled him off the double bed.

Ambulance technician Sam Holmes said when they arrived at the house there were adults and children outside “running around not knowing what to do in panic”.

They had received a call at 5.27pm and arrived at the house at 5.35pm.

Mr Holmes said it had been decided on the way to the call that he would run into the house and take the baby straight into the ambulance, rather than take equipment in.

"She [Cox] couldn't talk because she was in a terrible state... she was hysterical" - paramedic David Goodale

He did so and performed CPR as he took him to the ambulance.

“The baby was very blue, pale and lifeless,” he said.

“I didn’t notice any injury at that point.”

He handed over to paramedic David Goodale and then went out to gather information about what had happened.

He said of Cox: “She couldn’t talk because she was in a terrible state. She was hysterical. I calmed her down a little so she could talk.

“She was crying and distressed and not able to focus. She was deeply worried and confused. It came out in bits and pieces. She appeared very distracted.

“She said her partner was upstairs and the baby stopped breathing. She said the baby had been unwell for a few days.”

Shepherd was also running around hysterical.

Meanwhile, Mr Goodale said they need to go immediately to the hospital.

“It took a while,” he said. The mother and father (sic) were running around looking for keys and asking someone to look after their children.

"I said: ‘We need to go.’ It was repeated.”

He agreed the delay was just 30 seconds to a minute.

The trial continues.

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