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Father accused of murdering baby

A father crushed his eight-week-old baby's skull while he was left in charge of her for just 20 minutes after secretly drinking whisky and vodka, a court has heard.

Richard Barnes went to buy more alcohol after inflicting the devastating injuries on baby Grace in November last year at the family home in Crowther Steet, Castleford, West Yorkshire, the prosecution said.

He denies murder and told relatives later there was a clash of heads and he fell on the infant by accident, the Leeds Crown Court jury heard.

It was still unclear how and why the 27-year-old Haribo sweets employee inflicted the head injuries from which Grace died four days later, Richard Mansell QC, prosecuting, said.

"There is no doubt that he did cause those injuries in a deliberate and unlawful assault upon his daughter, during a short period of time when he was in sole charge of Grace while her mother Stephanie was out of the house," he said.

Barnes either kicked or stamped on the back of her head, or he may have crushed her skull by pressing it against a hard surface such as a floor, he said. "Again this could have been by way of a stamp," Mr Mansell added. "Either way, when he inflicted these injuries, he can only have intended to cause her really serious bodily harm and therefore the prosecution alleges he is guilty of her murder."

There were no concerns about Grace's care during her short life, and the family home Barnes shared with Stephanie Rudd, his partner since 2006, was "spotless", the prosecution said. Mr Mansell said the defendant had a drink problem which he hid from Ms Rudd.

Before attacking his eight-week-old he drank at least four miniature bottles of whisky, two vodka miniatures and two beers, the court heard. He filmed himself in his bathroom drinking two whiskies that lunchtime, saying "Pretty strong is that" before belching loudly.

Mr Mansell said drink "certainly played a part" in the murder and the amount he had consumed was "worrying" if he was caring for an eight-week-old. After the attack he went to buy two more miniatures rather than ring 999, the jury heard.

Ms Rudd was away for 20 minutes while she drove her mother Rinatre Rhodes home. As soon as she got back, Barnes called out to her saying he clashed heads with Grace after she was sick while he fed her. The case continues.


From Belfast Telegraph