Manchester

Dad accused of murdering toddler in Wigan 'adored' her

Hollie Ashurst Image copyright GMP
Image caption The toddler who had just started to crawl, died in hospital on 1 March

A father accused of murdering his 14-month-old daughter who died after suffering multiple injuries told a court he had "adored" her.

Daniel Ashurst, 33, told Manchester Crown Court he did not harm his daughter Hollie at the family home in Shevington, Wigan, on 28 February 2019.

The prosecution alleges he invented cover stories about her injuries.

At Manchester Crown Court Mr Ashurst denied Hollie's murder and manslaughter.

The court was previously told Hollie suffered bruising and multiple cuts to the head and neck, bleeding on the brain and in the eyes, a broken ankle and two possible bites on her hand and thigh.

Mr Ashurst is alleged to have caused the injuries at the family home in Fleming Court, which led to the youngster's death in hospital on 1 March.

Asked by his barrister Nina Grahame QC if he deliberately caused harm to his daughter Hollie, he replied: "I have never caused her any harm whatsoever."

Mr Ashurst said he and Hollie's mother, Leanne Thompson, were planning to get married and had a fortnight earlier returned from a family holiday to Gran Canaria, Spain.

'Fantastic baby'

He described his daughter as "a fantastic baby, brilliant - good as gold".

Ms Grahame asked: "How did she react to you as parents?"

Mr Ashurst replied: "It was a brilliant relationship. We both loved Hollie to bits."

The jury previously heard unemployed Mr Ashurst's medical records revealed he was on medication for anxiety and depression, and that a mental health worker had noted concerns about his ability to cope with Hollie once Ms Thompson returned to work.

He explained that taking out his daughter helped his mental health issues.

"I adored her and I loved showing her off," he said.

"I was forever putting pictures of her on Facebook."

Mr Ashurst told medics his daughter had tumbled down two stairs but in a defence statement seven months later claimed she had suffered a series of unfortunate accidents.

The Crown alleges the latter account was invented to explain the injuries.

The trial continues.

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