Leeds & West Yorkshire

Father accused of crushing baby's skull in Castleford

A father crushed his eight-week-old baby's skull while left in charge of her after secretly drinking beer, whisky and vodka, a court has heard.

Richard Barnes, 27, went to buy more alcohol after injuring baby Grace at home in Crowther Street, Castleford, West Yorkshire, last November.

He denies murder and told relatives there had been a clash of heads and he fell on the baby by accident.

Grace died four days after the attack, Leeds Crown Court was told.

'Deliberate assault'

Richard Mansell QC, prosecuting, said it was still unclear how and why Mr Barnes inflicted the head injuries from which Grace died.

There was no doubt that he caused those injuries in a "deliberate and unlawful assault" on his daughter, he said.

Mr Mansell said the defendant had a drink problem which he hid from Stephanie Rudd, his partner since 2006.

Before attacking Grace he had drunk at least four miniature bottles of whisky, two vodka miniatures and two beers, the court heard.

After the attack he went to buy two more miniatures rather than ring 999, the jury was told.

Ms Rudd had been away from the house for about 20 minutes while she drove her mother home.

As soon as she returned, Mr Barnes said he had clashed heads with Grace after she was sick while he was feeding her.

Skull fracturing

She was taken by ambulance to Pontefract General Infirmary and, after doctors became suspicious, Mr Barnes was arrested and later bailed. After Grace died he was re-arrested on suspicion of murder.

Before detectives spoke to Mr Barnes, he told his father he had fallen on the baby, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Mr Mansell told the court that according to a pathologist a simple fall would not have been forceful enough to cause the severe skull fracturing suffered by Grace.

Ms Rudd told the court when she returned home and found Grace was injured, Mr Barnes had said: "It must have hurt her because it really hurt me".

"Richard has only ever been brilliant with Grace and me since she was born. He is a very proud dad," she said.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites