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Mother who killed baby daughter did not intend to cause harm, court told

Jennifer Crichton admits manslaughter but denies the murder of seven-month-old Amelia who suffered ‘catastrophic’ head injuries.

Jennifer Crichton is on trial at Preston Crown Court (Dave Thompson/PA)
Jennifer Crichton is on trial at Preston Crown Court (Dave Thompson/PA)

A mother who admits killing her “helpless and vulnerable” baby did not intend to cause serious harm, a court heard.

Jennifer Crichton, 35, left her seven-month-old daughter Amelia with “catastrophic” head injuries, two hours after social services care workers left her home alone with the child, Preston Crown Court heard.

The child suffered bleeding on the brain, in her right eye and a complex skull fracture before dying two days later in hospital.

Crichton, from Leyland, Lancs, denies murder, but admitted being responsible for her daughter’s death and has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Christopher Tehrani QC, prosecuting, said Amelia died as a result of an “extreme degree” of violence, “meted out by her own mother, in her own home”.

But Simon Jackson QC, in his closing speech for the defence following four weeks of evidence, told the jury they should acquit her of murder as they could not be sure her “loss of control arose from an intention to cause serious harm”.

He said: “Central to this issue is the issue of intention. Can you be sure that this mother intended really serious harm to befall this infant?

“Even accepting Jennifer Crichton is guilty of a serious loss of self-control, you cannot be sure she intended those consequences.

“You may think it goes against every instinct of a mother who is kissing and cuddling that infant so close to these events.

“That’s a far better indication of what Jennifer Crichton is really like, rather than the outcome in this case.”

The defendant chose not to give evidence from the witness box in her own defence.

Earlier the jury heard Crichton had been receiving help to look after the child at her home on Slater Lane, Leyland, Lancs.

But an hour and 20 minutes after her support worker left the property at 11pm on April 19 last year, Crichton rang 999 for an ambulance reporting her daughter was not breathing.

Two days later doctors concluded Amelia would not recover from her “catastrophic” brain injuries and further life support was withdrawn.

Amelia had been born “on the cusp of life” on September 8, 2016, at between 23 and 24 weeks and weighing just 570 grams on delivery.

She spent six months in hospital for various complications of her prematurity.

But after discharge she behaved like a normal baby, going home to live with the defendant under a ‘care plan’ with the help of support workers who stayed overnight at the address until the hours were reduced over time.

Around 6pm on the night Amelia was allegedly murdered, a care support worker arrived at Crichton’s home.

During the evening when the support worker suggested Crichton take over feeding the child, the mother replied: “No you do it,” and went outside for a cigarette, the court heard.

At 11pm the care worker left and Amelia appeared to be fine, until an hour and 20 minutes later, Crichton rang 999 for an ambulance.

The defendant initially claimed the child had simply collapsed.

Medical experts concluded the injuries were “strongly supportive” of being due to a “deliberately inflicted head injury” caused by “significant blunt force.”

The trial continues.

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph