Hereford & Worcester

Leominster Elle Hamer inquest: parents 'lied' over injury

An inquest into the death of a five-week-old Herefordshire girl has heard her parents probably lied about her unexplained fractured skull.

Elle Hamer was discovered dead at home in Leominster on 4 October 2008.

Professor Peter Fleming, of Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, said there was a serious possibility that Elle's drug-using parents had caused the injury.

He said it was "most likely" that Ben Pochin and Emma Hamer lied when they denied knowledge of any incident.

An inquest at Herefordshire's Shire Hall heard the baby had a V-shaped fracture on the right hand side of her head at the time of her death.

'Missed opportunities'

Assistant Deputy Coroner Roland Wooderson has been told that Mr Pochin and Ms Hamer were both heroin and cocaine users and had been arrested for causing Elle's death, but criminal proceedings were later dropped.

Herefordshire's Safeguarding Children Board went on to carry out a serious case review and concluded there were "missed opportunities".

Giving evidence, Dr Neil Fraser, consultant paediatrician at Hereford Hospital and the doctor in charge of safeguarding policy, said he believed the fracture was likely to have been non-accidental.

He said it could have been caused by falling from a height of at least a few feet or a collision with a sharp object, but it was not possible to say that this had caused her death.

Dr Fraser added he did not think her parents could not have been aware of it.

He also told the hearing how Elle's failure to thrive and gain weight indicated a lack of care.

The inquest heard a statement from Shaun Burrows, a convicted drug dealer in Leominster, who said he supplied Elle's parents on a daily basis.

He said Ms Hamer would regularly bring her baby with her when buying drugs and that he had supplied her with heroin on either the day before or in the early hours of the day of Elle's death.

The inquest is expected to be concluded later.