Dad, 42, ‘who fatally shook baby daughter when she wouldn’t stop crying’
A dad murdered his baby daughter by violently shaking her to death after having a “difficult afternoon looking after her” when she would not stop crying, a court heard.
Philip Peace is accused of killing his five-month-old daughter Summer at their family home in Dudley, West Midlands, in September 2017.
He dialled 999 when the youngster collapsed and paramedics arrived at the address to find her “limp, unresponsive and struggling to breathe”, a court heard.
Summer was then rushed to Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley on September 8, 2017 and died around 24 hours later the following day.
She had suffered a fatal brain injury, 11 broken ribs, a fractured sternum and was bleeding from the eye and spinal cord.
Peace, 42, told doctors Summer had started to cry and was “inconsolable” a couple of hours before she collapsed – but that he had only rocked her and bounced her on his knee.
Medical experts concluded she died from a “non-accidental injury” caused by being excessively shaken and potential impact with a cushion, jurors were told.
Peace went on trial accused of murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.
Opening the case, prosecutor Andrew Smith QC said: “At 4.08pm on September 8, 2017, Philip Peace dialled 999 after his five-month-old daughter collapsed.
“The prosecution’s case is that Summer’s collapse was caused by her being intentionally shaken by Philip Peace.
“Summer was taken to hospital and died a little over 24 hours later.
“We say that the deliberate and unlawful actions of Philip Peace caused the death of Summer and that he is responsible for her murder.
“The prosecution say her collapse and death was caused by shaking perhaps together with impact.
“This is a traumatic event involving force.”
The court heard Summer’s brain injuries were caused by “excessive forwards and backwards moving of her head and brain -a whiplash-style injury”.
Mr Smith added: “Dr Al-Sarraj found changes in her brain came about due to lack of oxygen and there was also damage to the wiring of her brain.
“That damage to the wiring of the brain is all consistent with being caused by non-accidental head injuries.
“His preferred explanation is excessive forwards and backwards movement of her head and brain.
“A whiplash-style injury with or without further movement which places strain on the back of the neck particularly the medulla which controls the brain.
“Interference can lead to breathing stopping and then cardiac arrest which leads to reduction in oxygen to the brain.
“That same strain that causes subdural bleeding can cause bleeding to the eyes.
“The force was in excess of what is involved in normal handling of a child.
“Professor Stivaros specialises in interpretation of injuries to children’s brains and heads.
“He found widespread subdural bleeding and that it was between two halves of the brain.
“It would be explained by severe acceleration and deceleration like shaking. Impact against soft surfaces could be involved.
“The force would be deemed inappropriate and violent by independent observer.
“The degree of force involved would be obviously beyond that involved in handling a child.”
The court was told Summer also suffered “significant bleeding” in the retinal area of the eye as well as her optic nerve.
Her broken ribs were said to have been caused by shaking or “by someone with their hands wrapped around her chest squeezing in all directions.”
Mr Smith told the jury: “All of this bleeding around the eye was fresh and consistent with having been caused at the time of her collapse.
“It is consistent with being caused by movement head traumas such as shaking
“The degree of force would be obviously greater than that encountered in daily life.
“Another force could be impact against a soft yielding structure like a cushion.
“The most likely explanation of the injuries is excessive force or inappropriate handling by Mr Peace.
“Dr Kolar considers the overall cause of death was head injury.
“The overall brain bleeding, the bleeding in her her eyes and lack of oxygen are associated with traumatic head injury.
“He considers some of the causes of the head injuries were impact trauma, a forceful impact on a broad soft surface.
“We say she died of shaking potentially with impact that must have occurred just minutes before an ambulance was called to the defendant’s address.
“The shaking occurred when he was alone with Summer. He admitted she had been difficult to look after that afternoon.
“The defendant intended to cause really serious injury to her.
“But he denies acting unlawfully or causing any injury to Summer at any time.
“The count of manslaughter is an alternative to the count of murder.
“For you to consider is if he caused fatal injury without intention to cause serious injury.
“We will make you sure the charge is murder.”
Peace denies the charges and the trial, which is expected to last six to eight weeks, continues.