Mansfield toddler Eve Leatherland sustained a total of 12 rib fractures and two skull fractures inflicted on at least three separate occasions, a medical expert has told a jury.
Week two of the trial of Thomas Curd, 31, from Watford and Abigail Leatherland, 26, formerly of Mansfield, got underway at Truro Crown Court on Monday (March 18), the pair charged with murder, manslaughter by gross negligence, and causing or allowing the death of a child.
Last week the jury was told how 22-month-old Eve died in October 2017 after her lifeless body was rushed to hospital.
Post-mortem and toxological examinations showed how Eve had been administered with a fatal dose of codeine, enough it was said to have killed an adult.
She was also found to have suffered a fractured skull, broken ribs and a lacerated liver in the days leading up to her death.
The prosecution claims that all of Eve’s injuries were inflicted by at least one of the defendants with whom she shared a home and that she had been dead for some hours before the emergency services were eventually called.
Taking to the witness stand on Monday was Professor David Mangham a histopathlogist at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and Manchester University.
Mr Mangham confirmed to prosecuting barrister Sean Brunton QC that he was tasked with examining a section of Eve’s ribcage and a piece of her skullbone.
A diagram was showed to the jury that depicted 11 fractures in five ribs, Professor Mangham pointing out that several of the ribs had been refractured.
He explained that it was the interruption of the healing process by death that allowed him to determine the age of each fracture.
Professor Mangham described how the fracture in rib five on the diagram occurred at the junction between the bony rib and cartilage rib and that it had been inflicted two to five days prior to Eve’s death.
Rib number six, he said, had been fractured three to six days before death, but re-fractured one to two days before Eve died. This section of rib also showed another fracture towards the front of the rib cage that was caused two to five days prior to death.
Day One: Trial starts into death of Mansfield Woodhouse toddler
Day Two: Murder trial told Mansfield toddler was beaten, poisoned and left to die
Day Three: Mansfield toddler was cold and blue when paramedics arrived to save her
Day Four: Murder accused ‘laughed and joked’ as Mansfield toddler lay dead in a hospital bed
Day Five: Jury told Mansfield toddler had enough codeine in her system to kill an adult
Round-up: Trial into death of Mansfield toddler - what we know so far
Professor Mangham said that rib seven was fractured a little further back and had been broken between three and six days prior to death and again then one and two days before.
Rib eight showed just the one fracture at the cartilage junction one to four days before death and rib nine was similar to the other two that had been fractured and then refractured during the healing process.
A further rib fracture was found in rib 10 and Professor Mangham said that approximately half of the injuries were sustained three to six days before death and the other half, one to four days.
He added that due to the refracture of the ribs, the injuries must have been inflicted across at least two separate incidents.
Professor Mangham confirmed that Eve had no bone deficiency that could have contributed and proceeded to give a little more detail about how the injuries could have been caused.
He said: “Adult bones are very stiff whereas children’s bones are not as hard and rigid and have more elasticity. In order to fracture a child’s ribs they have to be deformed to the max before fracture occurs. It’s a two phase process.
“The rough handling of an infant does not fracture bones, this is beyond any rough handling and the level of force to cause the fractures would have been significant.
“The mechanism behind these injuries would have been a sustained compression of the rib cage. Several seconds to deform it and enough compression to cause the fracture. It’s unlikely but possible that a blunt force caused the injuries.”
Moving onto the skull, Professor Mangham said that he detected a fracture that was three to six days old, and then a refracture that he believes was inflicted two to 12 hours before death.
When asked about the mechanism for the skull injury he said: “The mechanism would have been a blunt impact force well beyond anything experienced in rough play.”
During cross examination Professor Mangham conceded that the rib injuries could have been caused by another child jumping on Eve’s chest but the skull injury would have to have been inflicted courtesy of contact with a hard surface.
Next to take to the witness stand was paediatric pathologist Di Liina Palm who works at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
She referred to her post-mortem report which spoke of, as well as the rib and skull fractures, bruises and abrasions to Eve’s head, face, arms and neck.
She said: “The injuries to her face showed bruises and abrasions, the majority of which were around the nose area and above the eyebrows.”
According to Dr Palm Eve’s nose also showed bruises and abrasions and that the marks “most likely represent an impact to that part of the face”.
Dr Palm said that bruises and abrasions under the surface of the chin area could have been gripping marks.
Marks above the ear were also said to have been caused by an impact.
Dr Palm added: “The liver tissue showed two areas of destruction and the examination showed evidence of early healing. It was likely that the liver injuries were caused 48 hours to 72 hours prior to death.”
Concluding, Dr Palm said: “Eve was previously a disease free little girl who sustained a major trauma prior to her death.”
Both Curd and Leatherland deny all the charges against them. The trial continues.