Trial into death of Mansfield toddler - what we know so far

The trial into the death of a Mansfield toddler got underway in Cornwall last week.

Eve Leatherland died in October 2017.

Eve Leatherland

Eve Leatherland

Her mother Abigail Leatherland, 26, formerly of Liskeard, and her mother’s former partner Thomas Curd, 31, from Watford, are each charged with murder, manslaughter by gross negligence, and causing or allowing the death of a child.

Leatherland is the ex-partner of Eve’s Mansfield Woodhouse-based father Dean Bird, of Portland Street.

He said he had been left “crying his heart out” after 22-month-old Eve’s death.

This week, the jury heard the prosecution outline its case and listened to evidence from witnesses.

As the trial progresses, the defence teams will be given their chance to present evidence to the jury.

Both Leatherland and Curd deny all charges. The trial continues.


Day one - Monday, March 11

Proceedings got under way on Monday at Truro Crown Court.

Much of the day was taken up by what legal professionals refer to as legal argument – where legal matters regarding the case are discussed between the barristers and judge. This is common during trials.

During the afternoon, documents were prepared and the witness batting order was drawn up. No evidence was heard.

READ MORE: Trial starts into death of Mansfield Woodhouse toddler

Day two - Tuesday, March 12

On Tuesday morning the jury was sworn in and the prosecution opened its case.

The court heard Eve died from a fatal dose of the drug codeine, which the prosecution claim was administered to the child following beatings in the days prior to her death.

Opening the case, Sean Brunton QC said: “Eve Leatherland was murdered in her own home.

“In the few days leading up to her death she was assaulted on at least two occasions, possibly several more, and in the course of those assaults she suffered a fractured skull, several fractures ribs, a split liver and numerous other injuries of varying severity.

“She suffered injuries described by medical experts as being the type of injuries most commonly associated with a road traffic crash.

“Not only did she suffer a fractured skull and ribs on one occasion but it seems that when she was assaulted again the second assault was sufficiently similar to the first that it re-fractured her skull and re-fractured some of her ribs, tearing apart the young bones as they started to knit back together.

“But, ghastly as all that may sound this was not quite the end of it. Because despite these assaults on this young child, or perhaps because of them, more was to befall young Eve.

“After these attacks she was then given medication. Not medication kindly given to alleviate her suffering. Not a tea spoon full of Calpol to take the edge off a nasty cold or a banged knee. But rather, she was given so much medication that she was killed by it.”

Mr Brunton said that it is not possible for the prosecution to say who did what, but at least one of the two defendants, in their view, must have beaten Eve with such force that her liver ruptured.

READ MORE: Murder trial told Mansfield toddler was beaten, poisoned and left to die

Day three - Wednesday, March 13

Paramedics who attempted to resuscitate Eve at the couple’s home took to the stand on Wednesday.

The jury heard that the toddler’s arm was stiff and paramedic Neil Jones thought rigor mortis may have already set in.

Giving evidence Mr Jones said that, along with his colleague Adrian Wood, he carried out advanced life support after they were called to the couple’s home in Liskeard.

When asked if he noticed anything unusual about Eve when she was moved, he said “when I came to put her arms in and fold her arms I noticed no flexion at the elbow, the arm came across as one unit”.

“I said to Adrian she felt stiff and thought there was a potential for rigor mortis to have set in.”

Also giving evidence, Mr Wood said that Eve had no circulation, wasn’t breathing and had some blueness to the lips.

Mr Wood said that Eve was displaying “no signs of life” when they arrived.

READ MORE: Mansfield toddler was cold and blue when paramedics arrived to save her

Day four - Thursday, March 14

The court heard that Leatherland and Curd laughed and joked while Eve lay dead in a hospital bed.

Derriford Hospital emergency department sister Sophie Brock was working when Eve was admitted to the hospital on October 5, 2017.

Ms Brock described how there were attempts to resuscitate Eve but an anaesthetist was unable to open her jaw because it was “so rigid”.

The court heard that a family friend arrived at the hospital to support the couple.

Ms Brock said: “The 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.”

Prosecuting barrister Sean Brunton, QC, asked Ms Brock about Eve’s general condition and she replied that she was “very slim for her age, was pale and had dirt under her fingernails”.

Next to give evidence was specialist paediatric sister Charlotte Durrant.

She explained how 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”.

READ MORE: Murder accused ‘laughed and joked’ as Mansfield toddler lay dead in a hospital bed

Day five - Friday, March 15

On Friday the court heard Eve had enough codeine in her system to kill an adult.

Appearing to give evidence via video-link was scientist and forensic toxicologist Dr Fiona Perry.

She confirmed that a sample of Eve’s blood had been taken away and examined.

Dr Perry said that the sample contained codeine and paracetamol which together combine to make co-codamol.

When asked by Mr Brunton the effect the drugs have on the body, Dr Perry said: “Side effects include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and confusion.

“It can also cause respiratory depression and slowed breathing, low bloody pressure and a combination can combine and lead to death.”

Dr Perry confirmed that test results showed Eve had been given codeine in a potentially fatal amount.

She said: “The concentration was much higher than therapeutic values and within the range associated with fatalities from codeine.

“Most of the data based on codeine overdose is for adults and medical advice indicates that codeine shouldn’t be given to children aged under 12.”

READ MORE: Jury told Mansfield toddler had enough codeine in her system to kill an adult