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Lily-Mai Hurrell Saint George: Ten-week-old baby who died of a serious head injury was unlawfully killed, coroner rules

Written by on 9 February 2021

A 10-week-old baby girl who died after suffering a serious head injury “caused by shaking” was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Lily-Mai Hurrell Saint George was found unresponsive by her parents on 31 January 2018 and died at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London two days later.

A retired paediatrician, Dr Peter Ehrhardt, told St Pancras Coroner’s Court he believed the infant’s injuries were due to her being assaulted.

Senior Coroner Mary Hassell said she was “entirely satisfied Lily-Mai was unlawfully killed”.

In April 2018, a 20-year-old man and 21-year-old woman were arrested in connection with Lily-Mai’s death and were released on bail, Scotland Yard said.

Lily-Mai had 19 rib fractures and a serious head injury which caused her death, the inquest heard on Monday.

She had been born prematurely and spent the first two months of her life in hospital, before being discharged into her parents’ care on 25 January 2018, the court heard.

Dr Cheentan Singh, from North Middlesex University Hospital, said the baby was taken to A&E on 31 January 2018.

In a statement read out in court, he said he told the parents that a head scan showed Lily-Mai had bleeding around her brain, and her father Darren Hurrell responded by crying.

Dr Singh said the child’s mother Lauren Saint George had a “brief smile on her face”, which he thought was an “abnormal reaction” after he told her Lily-Mai was “so unwell she may die”.

The court heard Lily-Mai had an irreversible brain injury and multiple organ failure, while a post-mortem examination found bruises on her face and head that were not related to therapy.

Dr Nathaniel Cary told the court the baby had a haemorrhage in multiple compartments of her brain and spinal cord, and damage caused by a lack of oxygen, which he said was a pattern explained by trauma.

He said the cause of death was a head injury caused by shaking and impact, and that the level of force was significantly greater than what would be termed as rough handling.

Fractures found on Lily-Mai’s right leg would have been caused two days before she died as a result of “forceful twisting and traction”, Dr Cary said.

There was a visible and notable change in Lily-Mai’s condition, and someone “would have known something was wrong”, he added.

Giving evidence by video link, Mr Hurrell told the court he had been arrested over the matter in April 2018.

He said he told police he had administered CPR on his daughter which may have caused the rib fractures, but he was unsure whether that was true.

Describing himself as a “big lad and heavy-handed”, he said he did not know how Lily-Mai sustained the head injury.

When asked by the coroner whether he had done anything to cause his daughter any injuries, he said: “No, I wouldn’t hurt my little girl.”

He added that he told police he had grabbed Lily-Mai “tightly” around her leg on one occasion to stop her falling off the bed while he was changing her.

Ms Hassell told Lily-Mai’s mother, who appeared at the hearing by video link, that she did not have to answer questions if she thought it would incriminate her.

Ms Saint George declined to answer questions and told the court she wanted to stick with what she had said in previous statements.

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