Murder accused 'laughed and joked' as Mansfield toddler lay dead in a hospital bed

Eve Leatherland.
Eve Leatherland.

Two former partners accused of murdering a 22-month old toddler from Mansfield Woodhouse laughed and joked while the tot lay dead in a hospital bed, a jury heard.

Abigail Leatherland, aged 26, of Liskeard, Cornwall, and 31-year-old Thomas Curd, from Watford, Hertfordshire, deny murder, manslaughter by gross negligence, and causing or allowing the death of a child. They say they were not responsible for the injuries Eve sustained in the build-up to her death or the administration of the painkiller which killed her.

Eve Leatherland.

Eve Leatherland.

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The court has heard how 22-month-old Eve Leatherland - the daughter of Leatherland and Dean Bird, of Portland Street, Mansfield Woodhouse - suffered a fractured skull, broken ribs and a lacerated liver in the days leading up to her death. Jurors have been told the injuries sustained in the home she shared with Curd and Leatherland that could have proved fatal in their own right.

Leatherland had moved to Cornwall with Eve, from Main Street, Farnsfield, a few months beforehand.

All the while the partners of just a few months are said to have been “wrapped up in their own superficial world of video games, TV, texts, selfies and Facebook” while Eve gradually died just feet away.

Dean Bird with his daughter Eve Leatherland and ex-partner Abigail Leatherland.

Dean Bird with his daughter Eve Leatherland and ex-partner Abigail Leatherland.

The prosecution claims that at least one of the defendants was responsible for inflicting the injuries and sedating Eve with the fatal dose of codeine, and that she had been dead for some time before a call was made to the emergency services.

Sophie Brock was working as an emergency department sister at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, when Eve was admitted on October 5, 2017.

She told the jury how the resuscitation department at the hospital had been pre-alerted by an ambulance crew that Eve was on her way via air ambulance.

When asked how Eve appeared when she arrived, Ms Brock said “she looked dead”.

Dean Bird and his daughter Eve Leatherland.

Dean Bird and his daughter Eve Leatherland.

She said: “She was very pale and I noticed bruising around the nappy line. The bruising looked a couple of days old and there was also what looked like a splayed hand around the waist area.”

Ms Brock described how there were attempts to resuscitate, Eve but an anaesthetist was unable to open her jaw because it was so rigid. Her limbs were also said to be rigid.

Ms Brock said when Leatherland and Curd were brought to Eve’s bedside after being told the outlook wasn’t good, Leatherland initially seemed physically distressed, whereas Curd declined to sit on a chair and propped him up on the edge of the trolley.

Leatherland and Curd were then taken to the relatives’ room, where they were explained the process, before they are said to have asked to go for a cigarette.

Ms Brock said: “The doctor asked for their history and Leatherland said the children did not see their biological father. The length of their relationship came up and they said they’ve been together a while and wanted a baby so had been to a family planning meeting.

“They told the doctor Curd had only moved in at the weekend but they’d been together a while. They said Eve had been genuinely unwell and was tired, lethargic and sleeping a lot.

“Curd said that on the day he put Eve back to bed at 9:30am and Abigail woke up at 10:30am but didn’t check Eve. The next check was five minutes before the 999 call.”

"A family friend, Camille, came in and they asked again if they could go for a cigarette. They came back smiling and laughing away to themselves and that frustrated me slightly.

“They asked for a cigarette again and I was quite firm and abrupt with them and said no. It was seconds between cigarettes.”

When Ms Brock checked Eve again she claims to have noticed a bloodshot area to the eye, a condition associated to a non-accidental injury which she then passed on to the police.

Ms Brock said Eve was very slim for her age, pale and had dirt under her fingernails.

Charlotte Durrant, a specialist paediatric sister, said she told Curd and Leatherland that Eve was going to pass away and how she remembers Leatherland, although upset, scrolling through her phone at the bedside.

Curd was said to be “very pale, agitated and shaky”.

The trial continues.

Copy courtesy of Cornwall Live.

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