Reading Crown Court: Newbury baby 'murder' jury told of tot's horrific final moments as trial opens
A FOUR-week-old baby sustained multiple, horrific injuries in his short life – including 50 broken bones and a fractured skull, Reading Crown Court was told.
The judge warned jurors at the start yesterday, Monday, of the resulting trial that they should prepare themselves for distressing testimony concerning the final moments of little Colby Lawton's life.
In the dock was Colby's father, James Lawton, and mother Chantelle Stroud, who shared a tumultuous relationship punctuated by extreme violence, it is alleged.
Mr Lawton, aged 28, of Boreham Field in Warminster, Wiltshire, denies murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Ms Stroud, aged 25, of Ashridge Court in Newbury, denies causing or allowing the death of a child.
Eloise Marshall QC, prosecuting, said that, in the early hours of May 9 last year, emergency services received a call from Ms Stroud to say that her baby son was not breathing.
Paramedics arrived at Ashridge Court, Newbury, within minutes and discovered that Colby's heart had stopped.
Significantly, said Ms Marshall, "by the time Colby arrived at hospital, the doctors believed he had been dead for about 90 minutes.
"If correct, that means that, at the time the call was made, Colby was already dead."
Mr Lawton was asked at the hospital what had happened.
Ms Marshall said: "He said he had heard Colby grizzling in his cot and picked him up to give him his bottle. He said he noticed he looked pale and a little floppy and was struggling to breathe and so he had woken Chantelle, who was asleep.
"She was also spoken to and said she was in bed when Mr Lawton woke her up with what appeared to Colby's lifeless body. Neither account gives an explanation for his sudden collapse and death."
Medical tests, however, revealed devastating multiple injuries, some recent – and some not.
The jury heard Colby had blood on his face and "at the very least, a fractured skull".
Further tests revealed around 50 bone fractures including multiple broken ribs and fractures to the legs plus damage to the spine and internal organs.
Ms Marshall said: "When I say fractures, some of them were full breaks, where the bones were completely broken apart. Others were crushed or cracked."
She added: "Medical experts believe the injuries were created on two different occasions – some in previous days and some in the moments leading up to Colby's death."
The skull fracture, in particular, was two days old and was caused by blunt impact trauma, such as a punch or a kick, the court heard.
The injuries to the spine and ribs were caused by severe compression.
Ms Marshall went on: "Various other injuries, both internal and external, were caused by gripping and shaking."
The most serious injuries had been caused in the minutes before Colby's heart stopped, the prosecution claim.
She said: "The crown say it was James Lawton who was responsible for the death of Colby and when he spoke to police at the hospital he was lying to them.
"It's the crown's case that Chantelle Stroud allowed Colby's death through neglect. We say she knew James Lawton posed a danger to Colby."
The case, expected to last up to four weeks, continues.