THE boyfriend of a teenage mother who is charged with her of causing multiple fractures to her baby, told a court yesterday that they would never deliberately hurt him.

But Andrew Spence, 24, told Teesside Crown Court that he fell down the stairs at their home, holding two-month- old Kane Simpson. During the fall, the baby slipped from his grasp but he seemed uninjured.

He said: "I checked his arms and legs and eyes and everything seemed fine."

Mr Spence, who is not the baby's father, said that he did not tell Kane's mother, Rachael Simpson, 19, because he did not want to worry her.

He added that in the first weeks of Kane's life his girlfriend was unwell, so he fed, bathed and changed the child.

He said that he had coped fine, and there were twice-weekly visits by nurses to their home in Billingham, Teesside.

Then they called a doctor to their home and Kane was rushed into hospital. A medical expert said that the baby had the most severe injuries he had ever seen - brain injuries, two skull fractures, both legs and arms broken and six broken ribs.

He is now in foster care and it is not known whether there will be long-lasting effects.

Ms Simpson is expecting Mr Spence's baby in March. The couple, of Redworth Road, deny two charges of child cruelty by assault and neglect between September and December 2001.

The trial continues on Monday.