Published: 17:25, 13 February 2018
A mother accused of child cruelty after her baby suffered a life threatening illness and is now facing disability has claimed she was planning to leave the father.
Jody Simpson said she was going to break up with Tony Smith the day before their gravely ill 41-day-old son, also called Tony Smith, was taken into hospital.
Asked why she wanted to leave him, Simpson, 24, replied: “Because he was rough with Tony.”
She did, however, stay with 46-year-old Smith for another almost three years until they went into custody six months ago.
Maidstone Crown Court has heard the baby suffered fractures to his limbs and then developed septicaemia in November 2014.
“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 did not go immediately because they were waiting for a plumber to mend their boiler.
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.
They deny causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child and cruelty to a person under 16.
The prosecutor said when Tony was taken to the GP’s surgery 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.
“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.
Simpson claimed she had twice seen Smith pick the baby up by the wrists so that his head was dangling back.
“He has got big hands and doesn’t realise how strong he actually is,” she told the jury.
The baby cried when picked up by the wrists.
“I told him to stop it and took the baby away from him,” she continued.
“I said: 'You can't do that, he is only young'.”
Miss Stangoe said: “He kept doing it though, didn’t he?
"He has got big hands and doesn't realise how strong he actually is" - Jody Simpson
"You had responsibility to make sure Tony was safe, didn’t you, so why did you allow your baby to continue to be handled by Tony when he was handling him in a way that was clearly wrong?”
Simpson answered: “I didn’t realise how bad the situation was at the time.”
Asked why she allowed her baby to be handled in that way by a man who was hurting him, Simpson said: “Because he is the father and I gave him the chance to put it right.”
Miss Stangoe: “But he didn’t put it right. This was not just a one-off. It kept on happening.
"You took the risk, did you, that he would do the right thing? You were prepared to take the risk? Because you loved him you were prepared to take the risk?”
Simpson: “I didn’t see it like that. I was hoping once I told him it would be better.”
Miss Stangoe: “But it wasn’t better because you had to tell him more than once. How bad were you going to let it get before you walked out of there?”
Simpson: “I was planning to leave him the day before I went to the hospital because of his behaviour. I spoke to my mum. I asked her if I could go and stay with her.”
Miss Stangoe: “Why didn’t you just go?”
Simpson: “Because I was frightened of not being good enough.”
Miss Stangoe: “Good enough for who?”
Simpson: “The baby.”
Miss Stangoe: “Isn’t a mother’s principal job to keep her baby safe? You didn’t keep your baby safe, did you?”
She wept and Judge Philip Statman allowed her request for a break.
Simpson agreed with Smith’s lawyer Ben Irwin that the father had also asked her in letters how the baby suffered the fractures.
Mr Irwin pointed out they continued to live together until they lost their liberty six months ago.
“You would not have stayed with Tony Smith if you really thought he had hurt baby Tony would you?” he asked.
Simpson paused and then replied: “I don’t know.”
She had told police she was 99.9% certain Smith would not hurt the baby. Asked if that was true, she said: “Yes, but there was a bit of doubt.”
Asked if she had now “taken against” Smith, she said: “No, I still love him.”
She denied that Smith always got up after her at 10am, adding: “He always got up with me.”
Simpson claimed Smith would hide in the hallway while the health visitor was there and wait until they left.
The trial continues.
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