Inconsistent evidence in baby death

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A baby who died of a brain injury probably suffered a trauma in the care of her mother's partner, a coroner ruled today.

Richard Williams had been arrested on suspicion of murdering 13-month-old Taylor Bromby, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was not enough evidence to charge him.



Cardiff coroner Mary Hassell said that "on the balance of probabilities" the cause of Taylor's death was a trauma sustained in Mr Williams' care at their home in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, while her mother Helen James was on a night out.



Ms Hassell said she could not return a verdict of unlawful killing as she was not satisfied of the cause "beyond all reasonable doubt".



She told Taylor's family who were present at the inquest: "I know it's a very difficult thing for you to hear I'm satisfied to one standard of proof but not another."



The inquest had heard evidence from Mr Williams that he and Ms James had argued the evening before Taylor died and he had asked to look after her because he thought he would never see her again.



Later that evening the baby began vomiting, became rigid and her eyes were rolling back in her head.



The coroner said she found Mr Williams' evidence inconsistent and that she did not understand why he ran with Taylor to her grandparents house nearby instead of calling an ambulance.



She added that it was surprising he had then left the baby with her grandparents and returned home to Diana Street, Troedyrhiw, considering how unwell she was.



But she said: "Having said that, just because a person acts in a surprising way doesn't mean they are trying to cover something up, and memories - particularly of a traumatic incident - may be confused."



Taylor was taken to hospital but died the following day on 3 April 2008.



The cause of death was swelling of the brain caused by a lack of oxygen. A post mortem examination also found bleeding around the brain and at the back of the eyes.



No natural cause of these injuries could be found.



Ms Hassell said that while there was a "strong association" of this triad of injuries with shaking or inflicted injury, it did not automatically mean that is what happened.



Dr Neil Stoodley had said the particular pattern of bleeding on the brain only resulted from trauma.



"He was of the view this pattern of bleeding was caused by shaking," Ms Hassell said.



Dr Richard Bonshek said the bleeding behind the eyes could only have been caused by trauma, but what had caused that trauma was unclear.



Dr Ryk James, who carried out the post mortem, agreed that the triad had never been reported without a traumatic cause but urged caution.



He said just because the injuries had not been seen in other cases did not mean they did not exist, and added that there were no accompanying injuries such as bruises or fractures to show violence was used.



Dr Daniel Du-Plesis said the triad of injuries, together with nerve fibre injuries along Taylor's spinal cord, demonstrated a traumatic cause.



Ms Hassell said: "I return a verdict that Taylor died as a consequence of trauma she sustained on the evening on April 2 2008 after 8pm. I return the verdict on the balance of probabilities."



A police spokeswoman said: "In April 2008 South Wales Police investigated the sudden death of a 13-month-old girl.



"A man, now aged 25, was arrested on suspicion of murder, but was later released without charge following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service."