A tearful mother whose daughter suffered fatal head injuries told a jury she wouldn’t have allowed her partner "to murder my child".

Dana Carr is accused of allowing her partner, Michael Daymond, to kill two-year-old Maya Chappell when she left her in his care when she went to work.

The 24-year-old told jurors that she believed her daughter was safe with Daymond - despite people raising concerns about the number of bruises the toddler was covered in.

Giving evidence at Teesside Crown Court, she described the 27-year-old as "lovely and caring" who had a lot of time for her and Maya.

The Northern Echo: Maya ChappellMaya Chappell (Image: Contributor)

"I looked at it as though he treated Maya as if she was his own," she said.

Toby Hedworth, representing Carr, asked her whether she had noticed any changes in her daughter’s development during her short relationship with her co-accused.

She said she had tried contacting a health visitor to air her concerns but "had no reason to believe anybody was treating my child badly".

Mr Hedworth asked: "If you thought someone was physically abusing Maya what would you have done?" She replied: "I would have left."

The court heard how Daymond was expecting a child with another woman while he was in a relationship with Carr.

Nicholas Lumley KC, representing Daymond, asked Carr whether she was telling people she was pregnant with twins at the time of Maya’s death. Carr said she had and had a scan taken at a private clinic.

When asked what happened to the pregnancy, Carr said she had them "aborted" when she learned what Daymond was alleged to have done.

The Northern Echo: Maya Chappell's funeral cortege. Photographed with the family's permissionMaya Chappell's funeral cortege. Photographed with the family's permission (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

Under cross examination from prosecution counsel, Benjamin Nolan KC, Carr denied that she was infatuated with Daymond to the extent that she put Maya’s life at risk.

Carr told the jury that she would have left if she suspected Daymond was hurting her daughter.

The defendant denied seeing the bruises on her daughter’s abdomen in the days leading up to her suffering her fatal head injuries.

Mr Nolan asked Carr whether all of the bruises found on Maya's body when she was in hospital were inflicted after she left her daughter with Michael Daymond. Carr replied: "Yes."

He said all those injuries were inflicted by Michael Daymond and suggested she could have protected Maya from that.

She said: "If I knew Michael Daymond was going to murder my child, I wouldn’t have left, I wouldn’t have gone to work - I wouldn’t have allowed him to murder my child.”

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Earlier in the trial, medical experts said Maya suffered significant injuries her head, neck and abdomen, moments before she collapsed while in the sole care of Daymond.

Daymond, formerly of Shotton Colliery, County Durham, has pleaded not guilty to murder and a second charge of cruelty to a child.

Twenty-four-year-old Carr, also formerly of Shotton Colliery, denies child cruelty and allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.