Leeds & West Yorkshire

Father accused of killing baby claims injuries accidental

A father accused of murdering his eight-week-old baby daughter said she was injured accidentally when they clashed heads, a court has heard.

Richard Barnes, 27, said their heads collided as he went to put baby Grace over his shoulder to prevent her from choking on her own vomit.

Leeds Crown Court heard Mr Barnes, who had been drinking beer and spirits on the day, also fell on top of the baby.

Mr Barnes, of Crowther Street, Castleford, denies murder.

The court was told he was left on his own to look after his daughter for around 20 minutes while his partner Stephanie Rudd drove her mother home last November.

He said he was feeding Grace her bottle when she was sick.

Mr Barnes told the jury he went to move the baby over his shoulder because he was worried she might choke on her vomit but as he lifted her towards his shoulder the pair clashed heads so hard it made his "ears ring".

He said he stood up, still holding her, and the next thing he remembered was being on the floor with Grace underneath him.

'Hated himself'

Mr Barnes said he then put Grace in her crib without looking at her and went to a shop to buy two miniature bottles of vodka.

He said he drank the vodka immediately after he got home and then noticed Grace looked "really white" when he picked her up.

When Miss Rudd returned home an ambulance was called. Grace died of head injuries four days later in hospital.

The court was told Mr Barnes did not tell anyone about the fall.

He told the jury he felt "totally ashamed" for not telling anyone about the fall and said he hated himself for going to the shop to buy alcohol after Grace had been injured.

In cross-examination, Richard Mansell QC, prosecuting, said Mr Barnes had made up the story about the clash of heads and had lied to police.

He said: "The truth was you had assaulted her violently, either by stamping on her or doing something similarly forceful."

Mr Barnes replied: "No".

The trial continues.

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