Dad threw baby 4-5ft across room then ‘smoked a cigarette’, court told
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A man accused of murdering his 13-year-old daughter threw her across a room in a “fit of temper” when she was a baby because she would not stop crying, a court has heard.
In August 2000, Maisie Newell suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries after allegedly being thrown into her cot when she was four weeks old.
She died on June 28 2014, while living at Terrington St Clement, as a result of the earlier injuries, which left her disabled, the Old Bailey heard.
In February this year, her father, Dean Smith, 45, from Bushey, near Watford in Hertfordshire, admitted manslaughter but denied murder.
Opening the case on Tuesday, prosecutor Sally O’Neill told jurors at the Old Bailey that the defendant “used to refer to his daughter as ‘the bitch’ although he would claim it was in jest.
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At the time of the assault, Smith was at the family home in Springwood Crescent in Edgware, north London, with Maisie and her older brother, who was 18 months old at the time, while Maisie’s mother Amanda Lee had gone to visit a friend at around 3pm.
“The defendant’s response to that was ‘Don’t leave me with a screaming baby for hours’,” Ms O’Neill told jurors.
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She continued: “By the time she returned to the house with her friend at about 4.30pm, the defendant had seriously assaulted his baby daughter.
“He did so, as he was later to admit, in a fit of temper because he became frustrated that she wouldn’t stop crying.
“He threw her a distance of four to five feet across the room into the cot, knocking her head on the side of the cot.
“He then left her there whilst he smoked a cigarette and helped himself to a beer and said nothing about what had happened when Amanda returned home, simply telling her that the baby was asleep.”
When Ms Lee realised something was wrong, Smith denied any wrongdoing until he eventually started crying and said he had put the baby roughly into the cot and she had hit her head, the court heard.
When Maisie’s mother noticed that the baby looked pale, she picked her up and tried to wake her but could not.
When emergency services were called at around 6.50pm, Ms O’Neill said the defendant and Ms Lee lied to paramedics, claiming Maisie’s 18-month-old brother had dragged her into the bathroom and dropped her on the floor.
The court heard that Maisie was born healthy, but after suffering brain damage from the assault she subsequently suffered from fitting, episodes requiring constant care, and was fed throughout her life through a feeding tube.
“She was never able to sit, stand, crawl or walk independently,” Ms O’Neill said.
At police interview, Smith admitted assaulting Maisie and said he was “disgusted with himself”.
In August 2001, Smith pleaded guilty to causing really serious harm and was sentenced to three years in prison.
On May 31 2014, Maisie, who was adopted in 2002, was taken to hospital because of a breathing problem and bleeding.
Her condition deteriorated and she died on June 28 2014 at home at the age of 13, with her adoptive family by her side.
Pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift noted at the post-mortem examination that “it is possible to directly correlate the cause of her death to the original incident of non-accidental injury in August 2000”.
Giving evidence in court, Dr Swift said had Maisie not sustained the significant brain injuries as a baby “she would not have been expected to die when she did”.
The trial continues.