Baby death trial: estranged partner tells court he trusted boy's mother

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Derwentside & Tyneside)

THE estranged partner of a woman accused of allowing the death of a child in her care has told a jury he trusted her with their son.

Carl Sharkey said the three bruises on 13-month-old Slater Sharkey’s face and head were understandable because he was a "typical baby" learning to stand up.

The baby died after he was taken to hospital covered in marks, which prosecutors say were inflicted by Rachel Peacock’s new boyfriend, Richard Morgan.

Mr Sharkey admitted a bruise on Slater’s jaw occurred when he fell on a table while in his care.

He told the jury at Newcastle Crown Court Slater had been unwell when he last saw him, three days before his death.

Mr Sharkey said: “He was not 100 per cent. He was bad with cold or flu. He was run down, but seemed lively. He was red around the eyes and nose.”

He said he accepted 31-year-old Miss Peacock’s explanation of not taking him to hospital after he became unwell a month earlier, despite the advice of her GP, after she told him it had been a "misunderstanding".

He said: “I trusted her to make the right decision.”

The court heard the couple had been together several years and wanted to start a family, but Miss Peacock had miscarried twice.

Slater was born following a successful programme of IVF, but the pair split after Miss Peacock developed another relationship.

Mr Sharkey moved in with his parents in Tanfield Lea, near Stanley , while Miss Peacock and Slater left the home they shared in Woodside Grove, Tantobie, to move in with Richard Morgan, now 33, in Owen Terrace, Tantobie.

Miss Peacock denies causing or allowing Slater’s death with a further allegation of child cruelty, while Mr Morgan denies manslaughter.

Paediatrician Dr Ewa Posner, (both correct) who saw Slater when he was transferred to the University Hospital of North Durham from Shotley Bridge Hospital, at about 5pm on December 11, 2010, said Mr Morgan was concerned he would be blamed for his death because he had been looking after him while his mother went to the shops.

She said: “He said 'everyone will blame me. I was left in charge so I will be blamed'.”

The trial continues.

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