The trial of a couple accused of causing a young baby's death has heard harrowing details of the injuries he suffered.
Five-month-old Eli Cox suffered fatal injuries at an address in Lapwing Close, Minster, on the Isle of Sheppey, which led to his death two weeks later on April 27 last year.
Today, the trial of a couple accused of causing the death of the tot, who died of a “catastrophic” head injury, started at Maidstone Crown Court.
Mum-of-nine Katherine Cox, 33, and Danny Shepherd, 25, now of Faversham, deny causing or allowing the death of a child between April 12 and 28 and causing or allowing physical harm to a child.
They also denied possessing the Class B drug amphetamine on April 14.
Prosecutor Jennifer Knight said Eli suffered extensive brain damage caused by a prolonged period of insufficient oxygen to the brain.
He was also found to have suffered multiple fractures to bones of varying ages.
Miss Knight said it suggested injuries were inflicted on many different occasions leading up to the child's death.
His final collapse on April 13 was caused by an episode of shaking.
The case was opened to the jury of nine men and three women this morning by the prosecutor.
A previous hearing at Medway Magistrates’ Court was told the baby suffered several injuries, including to the brain.
He had 28 fractures to 19 bones and was alleged to have been exposed to amphetamine and cocaine.
The child suffered a cardiac arrest and was placed on life support, but died on April 27, two weeks after ambulance crews were called to his home.
Shepherd and Cox were the only adults in the four bedroom house at the time of collapse.
“It was the actions of one of them that resulted in the catastrophic brain injury that Eli Cox suffered that day,” said Miss Knight.
“The events of that day were clearly the unhappy culmination of injuries Eli Cox suffered on many occasions, also inflicted by Danny Shepherd or Katherine Cox.
“Both were aware in the weeks leading up to April 13 and on the day of his death that Eli Cox was at serious risk of physical harm
“They were aware of it because one was the perpetrator and the other knew that perpetrator presented a risk to Eli.”
Miss Knight said Shepherd, who was not the child’s father, called himself “Pickle” and he had a stick he labelled “Pickle’s beating stick”.
A tub in the garden shed was found to contain five small bags of amphetamine and samples from Eli’s hair showed he had been exposed to the drug.
A pathologist found that as well as the brain injury Eli had 28 different fractures to bones caused on five different occasions. Nine were to the back of the ribcage which were almost exclusively non-accidental.
"The events of that day were clearly the unhappy culmination of injuries Eli Cox suffered on many occasions, also inflicted by Danny Shepherd or Katherine Cox" - Jennifer Knight, prosecuting
The oldest fractures were five to seven weeks before death.
Miss Knight said Cox had separated from Eli’s father by the time of his birth on November 27 2015. She had started a relationship with Shepherd in the summer of that year and he moved into the house in November.
Eli had been a healthy baby in the months following his birth.
On April 13, a neighbour and friend of Cox’s, Bonnie Boulton, visited the house with a baby seat for Eli. Shepherd was feeding the child, who appeared to be fine.
Shepherd said Eli had not been well. He put him in his baby seat and he cried. Miss Boulton picked him up and made him smile and laugh.
Another neighbour called at about 12.30pm and saw Eli playing with his rattle.
At around 5pm, Miss Boulton was having a bath at her home when her partner and daughter rushed up the stairs shouting that the baby was blue and they would call an ambulance.
She ran to the child’s home. Another neighbour, who was a first aider, was already there. Cox, meanwhile, had called the ambulance service and reported that the baby was not breathing.
Shepherd was in a bedroom with Eli. The door was closed. The child was on his back on the bed.
Miss Bolton saw that Eli was a “bluish grey” colour. Shepherd was performing chest compressions using both hands, as would be done on an adult.
The first aider neighbour told him to stop, pushed him aside and put a finger into Eli’s mouth to check if his airway was clear. She found no obstruction.
The 999 operator gave her instructions to perform CPR. She did so until the ambulance crew arrived at 5.35pm. The baby was taken to the ambulance to be treated.
Miss Bolton remembered Cox saying repeatedly she thought Eli was dead.
She also said: “Pickle, what have you done?” She heard Shepherd say more than once: “I will get the blame for this. They will blame me.”
A radiologist found bleeding around the brain was significant, as it was indicative of shaking.
Miss Knight said a brain injury of such magnitude would have been apparent to the perpetrator immediately after it was caused.
A pathologist concluded Eli suffered five different episodes of non-accidental injury in the 10 weeks prior to his death, sufficient to cause damage or fractures to his bones.
His death was caused by a head injury “of the shaking/impact type”. He had also suffered repeated skeletal injury on many different occasions in the period leading to his death.
Two round bruises on the back of his head were likely to have been caused by a toy found in Eli’s cot.
Tests on his hair showed he had been regularly exposed to amphetamine and occasionally cocaine throughout his life.
"I will get the blame for this. They will blame me" - Shepherd's alleged words to Cox
A blood sample taken from Shepherd on April 14 contained amphetamine consistent with recent “recreational” use.
A hair sample taken from Cox showed she had been occasionally exposed to amphetamine and cocaine in the previous six months.
When interviewed Shepherd denied injuring Eli in any way, either deliberately or acidentally. He claimed neither he nor Cox had ever lost their temper with the baby.
He added he had no idea how the child suffered a catastrophic brain injury or how he got the two round bruises on the back of his head.
Shepherd said he had no idea how Eli sustained multiple fractures but it must have been at the home of a relative of Cox’s when he stayed there.
“Danny Shepherd said neither he nor Katherine Cox used drugs, although Katherine Cox smoked a bit of cannabis occasionally,” said Miss Knight. “He said he knew nothing about the drugs found in the garden shed.”
He denied knowing anything about the Vanish tub that contained the amphetamine. He suggested the drugs must have been put in the unlocked shed when they went to the hospital.
Shepherd said he had neve heard the word amhetamine but did know the word “speed”. He made no comment when asked about the drug test which revealed he had taken amphetamine.
He said he only had a stick a short time as it was burnt on Bonfire Night. He denied threatening or hitting children with it.
The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, continues.