Great Britain

Dad accused of shaking baby daughter to death tell jury he accidentally dropped her down stairs

A DAD is being accused of covering up violently shaking his 14-month-old daughter to death in a rage, then making up a "nonsense" story.

Baby Hollie was found covered in bite marks, bruises and scrapes on her head and neck.

Hospital scans on her lifeless body showed that she had bleeding on the brain and in her eyes, a broken ankle and two possible bite marks to her hand and thigh.

A Home Office pathologist concluded that she had died of her head injuries and noted previous injuries on her body from weeks prior, the jury heard.

The court was told that her dad, Daniel Ashurst, 33, had taken cocaine the night before her death to "help him relax".

He denies murder and told Manchester Crown Court that her death came about as a series of unfortunate accidents within an hour of him running into a GP's surgery with the limp child in his arms.

Hollie's death on February 28 2019, he said, started when she first fell off the bed at the family home in Shevington, Wigan, after he left her for a "split second" to go to the bathroom.

Then he says he popped outside to move a bin from his driveway and on his return found her two steps down from the top of the stairs "shaking from head to toe" the Court heard.

He apparently then picked her up to rush her to hospital but the left pocket of his shorts snagged something on the way down and he slipped and lost grip of Hollie, who landed at the bottom of the staircase.

During the car journey that followed, he says he braked "heavily" at a set of traffic lights and Hollie came "flying" out of her car seat.

He said he had strapped his daughter into her car seat but said it may not have "fastened totally".

The jury heard that Ashurst had only mentioned the two-step fall to a doctor and four paramedics after he diverted from the hospital to the nearby Standish Medical Practice.

Ashurst says he did not believe any of the other alleged accidents caused injury to his daughter.

Mental health records previously obtained by police revealed he was on medication for anxiety and depression. He had said he was concerned about his ability to cope with looking after Hollie following her mother's recent return to work.

'I WAS PANICKED'

He told the jury: "I was so confused maybe, I was panicked at what was going on. I never felt I had any direct contact with anyone to go through a list of events.

"In my mind it was the fact I had found her at the top of the stairs and she looked awful, and that is why I took her to hospital."

Guy Gozem QC, cross-examining, asked why would he not want to give the fullest possible history to professionals wanting to save his daughter's life.

Ashurst replied: "I can't answer that question."

'NOT THOUGHT OF THIS NONSENSE'

Mr Gozem said: "The answer is you had not thought of this nonsense that you are now telling the jury."

Ashurst said: "All I can tell is the total truth of what had happened and that is the truth."

Mr Gozem went on: "I am going to suggest to you, in circumstances you have not revealed to us, that you lost your temper and in frustration shook Hollie and inflicted those injuries on her."

The defendant said: "I would absolutely never hurt Hollie. I have done nothing but adore her, love her and look after her. I certainly did not hurt or harm Hollie."

He said he drank alcohol - three or four cans of lager nightly - and used cocaine two or three times a week to help him relax.

Ashurst used cocaine on the evening before the fatal injuries were said to have happened, the court was told, but he said it had no effect on him the next day after "a good night's sleep".


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