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Prosecutors set out case against Kent couple after death of baby at home

A baby was found to have several non-accidental injuries after he died from pneumonia and sepsis at just three weeks old, a court heard.

Bailey Smyth-Osborne had a fracture to his leg and bruising to his head and penis.

The head injuries were consistent with “more than one blunt impact” and the break to his left tibia by a twisting or yanking motion, Maidstone Crown Court was told.

Michael Osborne and Marina Smyth
Michael Osborne and Marina Smyth

The bruising to the penis raised the possibility of pinching “or impact of some kind”.

Bailey’s parents Marina Smyth, 21, and Michael Osborne, 22, deny causing or allowing physical harm to a child at their Tonbridge home between November 16 and December 6 in 2016.

Prosecutor Jennifer Knight told the jury of seven women and five men: “It is the Crown’s case that one of these two defendants is responsible for Bailey’s injuries and that the other, although not the actual perpetrator of those injuries, allowed them to occur by failing to take reasonable steps to protect Bailey from a risk of injury which should have been foreseen.”

The couple met as teenagers and began a relationship in 2015. They later moved into a flat in Walters Farm Road.

Bailey was born on November 16, 2016 at Pembury Hospital and Smyth was discharged the same day.

When he was nearly two weeks old on November 29, a visiting midwife suspected he had oral thrush and suggested he be taken to the doctor. Drops were prescribed.

The couple took him back on December 2 and told the doctor the drops made him cough. A gel was then prescribed.

The following day they went to a family party where several people held Bailey.

At about 1am on December 5, a neighbour heard a baby’s high pitched crying lasting 20-25 minutes.

The trial is taking place at Maidstone Crown Court
The trial is taking place at Maidstone Crown Court

Miss Knight said at about 10am Smyth phoned her mother Wendy and cried as she told her Bailey was not breathing.

Forty-five minutes later at 10.45am, Smyth called 999 and told ambulance control Bailey was not breathing.

Andrew Strand, a fireman who is also an emergency care responder, arrived at the flat four minutes later and saw that Osborne was performing chest compressions under instructions from ambulance control.

Mr Strand could see Bailey was unconscious, not breathing, grey and felt fairly stiff. His arms were cool, although his torso had warmth.

Mr Strand started CPR. He felt immediately Bailey’s chest was stiff and would not compress to the required depth.

He was unable to insert an airway into the baby’s mouth as his jaw was stiff and rigor mortis had set in. Despite continued CPR, there was no response.

Paramedics arrived shortly after 11am and found the degree of rigor mortis indicated Bailey had been dead for some time. He was taken to Pembury Hospital.

The couple told police they had woken at 10am and found that Bailey was stiff and called an ambulance.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Uday Kumar examined Bailey and could immediately see a number of injuries – a 5cm line of bruising on the right side of the head, 3cm above the ear and brown or blue bruising about 1cm in diameter near the base of the penis.

"It is the Crown's case that one of these two defendants is responsible for Bailey's injuries and that the other, although not the actual perpetrator of those injuries, allowed them to occur by failing to take reasonable steps to protect Bailey from a risk of injury which should have been foreseen" - prosecutor Jennifer Knight

Pathologist Dr Nathaniel Cary concluded after a post mortem examination that the cause of death was bronchial pneumonia and sepsis, preceded by a respiratory syncytial virus which usually lead to cold like symptoms.

Also found during the post mortem examination were two bruises along the right side of the head in two sections, a blue mark below the right eye and a slight abrasion on the side of the nose.

There was also bruising to the underside of the base of the penis, swelling to the mid part and on the pubis.

Further bruising was over the back of the left ring finger, the middle finger, the index finger and a tiny abrasion on the back of the left thumb.

A sub-scalp examination revealed an area of quite intense bleeding 2cm long and 1cm wide. There was lesser bleeding in front of and behind the area.

“There was evidence of fresh bruising to the penis, left elbow, the fingers of the left hand, the left ankle and the right heel,” said Miss Knight.

“Dr Cary considered these bruises to be consistent with mild to moderate force, blunt impact or compression.

“He observed that any bruising to a young baby who is not yet mobile, without explanation, is a cause for concern, particularly bruising to the penis, which raises the possibility of pinching or impact.”

A CT scan showed a fracture to the left tibia. Professor David Mangham described the type of fracture as being caused by “forcible traction – pulling with a twisting motion”.

He judged that the injury was caused between 24-72 hours prior to death, but most likely 24-48 hours.

The pathologist concluded that both the bruising and fracturing indicated a level of trauma beyond rough handling and in keeping with assault in the period leading up to death.

Smyth, now of Oxford Gardens, Maidstone, told police she not could think of anything that might have caused the injuries.

She said she and Osborne were gentle when they changed Bailey.

She said Osborne got “stressed out” easily and there were a couple of times when he was doing night feeds that he woke her because he could not cope with getting Bailey back to sleep. She described him getting agitated.

Smyth claimed she called 999 immediately and did not call her mother until after the ambulance had arrived.

Osborne, now of Bybrook Road, Kennington, Ashford, denied in a prepared statement he had ever harmed the baby or was aware of him suffering any injuries.

When asked about Bailey’s broken leg, he said he would not have hurt him as he “loved him to pieces” and knew he was fragile, so was gentle with him.

He described Smyth as being “a lovely mum” in his presence. He also claimed she called her mother after paramedics arrived.

The trial continues.

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