England

Lesley Dunford trial: Camber toddler 'smothered'

Lesley Dunford
Image caption Lesley Dunford has denied the charge of murder at Lewes Crown Court

A toddler found dead in her bed eight years ago had injuries suggesting she was smothered, a court has heard.

Lesley Dunford, 33, now of Exeter, Devon, denies murdering three-year-old Lucy Dunford at their former family home in Camber, East Sussex.

Prosecuting, Sally Howes QC told jurors at Lewes Crown Court "somebody stopped her from breathing".

She also said Ms Dunford changed her story to "fit in with the [post-mortem] evidence".

Lucy died on 2 February 2004 at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, where she was taken by air ambulance from her home in Pelwood Road.

'Blockage of airways'

Ms Howes said injuries found on the girl's body during post-mortem examinations showed the toddler had bruising under the skin, around the shoulders and neck, that suggested "she was held face down into a surface like a pillow".

The child had also suffered a cut above her left eyebrow which could have have been caused by hitting a hard surface such as the headboard of a bed, the court heard.

Jurors heard that during Ms Dunford's first police interview in February 2004, she told officers she had put her daughter to bed at about 14:00 GMT but an hour later she found her daughter was not breathing.

The court heard that in a second police interview in May that year, Ms Dunford told officers she read Lucy a story but her daughter was lethargic, her temperature was warmer than normal, and she was as white as a sheet.

By that time, Ms Dunford had been made aware of the findings of three post-mortem examinations which each showed Lucy died from asphyxia caused by the forced blockage of her airways, Ms Howes said.

She said: "These changes in the accounts given by Lesley Dunford are designed to fit in with the evidence which is at odds with the account she gave in February."

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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