Tot lay with brain injury... while parents played video games, jury told

Call of Duty Black Ops 2
Call of Duty Black Ops 2

A South Yorkshire couple played the latest version of cult video game Call of Duty while their four-month-old son lay with a severe brain injury, a court heard.

The 27-year-old mother was queuing up at midnight to buy the game while her boyfriend allegedly assaulted the crying baby.

When the mother returned in the early hours the baby was put to bed and the couple played the game for a couple of hours until they fell asleep.

Later that day their son was found to be ‘floppy, pale and unresponsive’ and was ‘clearly unwell’, according to a GP who was called out.

The baby was rushed to hospital and found to have suffered severe brain damage which the prosecution claim was caused by the 24-year-old father.

He initially claimed the injuries were caused by the tot’s elder brother hitting the infant over the head with his feeding bottle.

But Christopher Tehrani QC, prosecuting, said the father later confessed to police saying: “He had shaken the baby and was responsible for causing his injuries.”

Sheffield Crown Court heard the victim, now two-and-a-half years old, survived but is severely brain injured.

The couple, from the Dearne Valley area, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are on trial. The father denies inflicting grievous bodily harm on the child and the mother denies cruelty by not seeking medical attention.

Mr Tehrani said following the alleged assault the baby suffered a number of seizures at Barnsley Hospital on November 13, 2012, and was transferred to Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital.

Scans showed bleeding and swelling on the brain and bleeding to the spine. Doctors believed the injuries were non-accidental and called the police.

The prosecution say the injuries were caused by the father shaking the baby some time before the child collapsed.

The father gave officers several different versions over the next seven months of what happened.

In his first interview he said the tot had been unwell since his immunisations a fortnight before. In a second interview he said the baby’s brother hit him over the head with his feeding bottle – something he had done on numerous occasions.

He later blamed Barnsley Hospital and said there had been a cover-up. Then on March 28, 2013, he dialled 999 and left a message for the investigating officer saying he had shaken the infant.

In her police interviews the mother said her son had trouble breathing twice on the afternoon before the alleged assault and then refused his milk.

She had queued up for the video game and returned after midnight before playing it with her boyfriend for a couple of hours.

“Whilst playing the game the baby was asleep upstairs and we were listening through a baby monitor,” she said.

In a later interview she told police the father had texted her on February 26 saying: “I did it.” She later deleted the text.

But Mr Tehrani said: “The prosecution case is that the baby was subject to an unlawful assault and his collapse was due to trauma on the brain caused by the father while he was on his own.”

He said the mother had neglected the child by not seeking immediate medical help the day before the tot’s collapse and on the day of the incident.

Jurors were told the baby was born prematurely by emergency Caesarean section at 32 weeks to the mother who has two other sons, then aged three and five.

The couple had an ‘on-off’ relationship but the four-month-old was thought to be healthy with a good prognosis.

The court heard the 24-year-old has now retracted his confessions saying were ‘untrue’. He says the injuries were caused by underlying problems the baby suffered at birth.

He claims he did not shake or assault the child and says the boy was dehydrated and may have been suffering from an infection. He also claims one of the siblings could have caused the head injury.

“We say that is nonsense,” said the prosecutor.

The trial which is expected to last three weeks continues.