A toddler whose death is the subject of a murder inquiry suffered a fatal head injury, a pathologist has concluded.

An inquest into the death of one-year-old Charlie Roberts, from Darlington, was opened at Crook Coroners’ Court on Thursday.

Emergency services were called to his home at Frosterley Drive on January 12 but he died the following day at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

The Northern Echo: The smiling face of Charlie Roberts The smiling face of Charlie Roberts (Image: Facebook)

The court was told paramedics were called because he was choking. Coroner’s Officer Emily Bourne said: “I understand the circumstances to be that Charles Roberts, known as Charlie, died following a call made to the North East Ambulance Service stating Charlie was choking on something.

“He was transported to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where injuries were found which resulted in the death of Charlie and the arrests of Mr Christopher Stockton and Ms Paula Roberts.”

The court was told a post-mortem examination carried out by Professor Marta Cohen at Sheffield Children’s Hospital concluded the cause of death was a head injury.

Senior Coroner Jeremy Chipperfield has adjourned the proceedings so further investigations can be carried out pending a criminal investigation.

Chris Stockton has been charged with murder and has appeared at Teesside Crown Court.

The 37-year-old and the child’s mother, Paula Roberts, 40, are both charged with child neglect.

They both deny all charges and are due to stand trial.

Judge Howard Crowson has told the defendants they will next appear in court on July 24 for a further case management hearing.

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Stockton, of Neasham Road, Darlington, is remanded into custody until the next hearing.

Roberts, of Surtees Street, Darlington, was granted conditional bail.

They are both due to appear at the same court for a three-week trial on October 2 in front of a High Court judge.

The Northern Echo: Tributes left in Charlie's memory Tributes left in Charlie's memory (Image: Northern Echo)