A BABYSITTER murdered a two-year-old by repeatedly hitting his head against the banisters in her home, a court heard yesterday.

Kyle Fisher suffered severe brain swelling, bruising to his jaw, shoulders and head, and was left brain dead following the alleged attack by Susan Holdsworth.

The defendant, of Millpool Close, Hartlepool, denies murdering the boy, who she was minding while his 19-year-old single mother was on a night out, in July last year.

He died in Newcastle General hospital two days after the alleged incident, when his life-support machine was turned off, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The jury was told that Ms Holdsworth denied harming the youngster, claiming he had had a fit.

Andrew Robertson, prosecuting, said that when the police became involved she bullied Kyle's mother, Clare Fisher, into covering up for her. Miss Fisher went along with the story only because of the strong hold the 34-year-old had over her and because she feared Kyle would be taken into care, the court was told.

The court heard that the babysitter grabbed the toddler by the neck and smashed his head several times against the wooden banister, leaving imprints of the railings on his head and causing his brain to swell.

The injuries were inflicted just over an hour after Miss Fisher had left her son in Ms Holdsworth's care.

The accused, who has two daughters and is also known as Susan Spencer, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Kyle at her home.

Mr Robertson told the court: "The death was no accident.

"The force was so serious that it caused swelling to the brain itself. At Holdsworth's home in Hartlepool, there is a banister with a scalloped-type relief and one with a totally straight edge opposite.

"These banisters match the bruising on Kyle's head. His head had been brought repeatedly into contact with the scalloped edge on one side and the straight edge on the other.

"From the bruises, we can tell Kyle must have been held tightly around the neck and shoulders so he was facing the banisters with his head down when it was struck against them.

"Once he had his head hit against something sufficiently hard enough to cause his death, he would either be unconscious or showing signs of slipping into unconsciousness."

But Ms Holdsworth told police that Kyle had been acting normally when his mother dropped him off, and he had been watching television when he suddenly collapsed, his eyes began rolling back into his head and she thought he was having a fit.

Mr Robertson said: "That account is totally inconsistent with the medical evidence, and the medical evidence will totally refute that.

"The irrefutable conclusion is that Holdsworth was responsible for the fatal assault, which must have taken place on that night.

"Her admission he was fit and well when left at her home on Wednesday night is significant. Had he suffered a fatal injury prior to his arrival at her home, he would not have been looking well at all."

When ambulance staff arrived at the house, Kyle was on the settee, totally unresponsive, and already dying, he added. The defendant continues to claim the toddler suffered a fit.

Mr Robertson said: "Why did she do it? Only she can tell us, but she has chosen to deny it in its entirety.

"She simply cannot own up to what she has done."

The jury was told she tried to cover up for what she had done by persuading Kyle's mother to lie for her about a previous incident in which the youngster suffered bruises while in the defendant's care.

The prosecution alleges she told Miss Fisher that she would be investigated because she had left Kyle alone the previous Saturday night to go out with a friend.

The court heard that, as Kyle lay in hospital fighting for his life, Ms Holdsworth told the teenage mother: "I do not want my kids investigated and you will be investigated about Saturday night.

"We are going to have to come up with a story."

The trial continues.