A MOTHER who twice slapped her baby son in front of a horrified friend told her of his death by text message, a court heard.

Rachel Peacock sent the electronic message to the phone of Donna Armin the day after 13-month-old Slater Sharkey’s death.

Newcastle Crown Court heard she had previously been shocked when the 31-year-old smacked her one-year-old son on the hand and the leg for scratching her and becoming restless.

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Miss Armin said: “You don’t slap a baby. They do not know any different. I wasn’t overly concerned that I thought I should ring social services, but it is not normal.

“I don’t know anyone else who smacks a baby. She would say ‘He has got to learn’.”

Slater was pronounced dead at Shotley Bridge Hospital when his lifeless and bruised body was taken there by Miss Peacock and her partner Richard Morgan, 33, who lived at Owen Terrace, Tantobie, Stanley, County Durham, on December 11, 2010.

The couple were arrested and subsequently charged.

Miss Peacock denies child cruelty and allowing the death of a child in her care while Mr Morgan denies manslaughter.

Miss Armin told the jury she had previously seen bruises on Slater’s leg, head and face and a large lump on his temple.

She learned of Slater’s death the day after when she received a text message to her phone from Miss Peacock that said: “I’ve lost Slater.”

Miss Armin said: “I texted her back and said what do you mean, you have lost Slater?

“She said ‘He has been bad with cold and now he is dead.’”

The trial, which is expected to last up four weeks, continues tomorrow, Thursday.