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Dad accused of murdering baby after taking cocaine and cannabis
4:40pm Friday 6th June 2014 in News
A father who took cocaine and cannabis murdered his four-month-old baby by ''vigorously shaking'' her with such violence that she suffered ''terrible injuries'' leading to her death, a court has heard.
Ross Conlin, of Sandy Lane, Farnborough, is accused of causing his daughter, Kiera Conlin, to suffer a heart attack and bleeding to the brain while she was alone in his care on the bank holiday of May 6 last year.
Conlin, 29, is accused at Winchester Crown Court of causing his child rib and skull fractures on three previous occasions, which is the subject of three charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent also faced by the defendant.
His partner and Kiera's mother, Kelly Rayner, is also accused of allowing the death of Kiera. She is accused of failing to care for and protect her daughter from the actions of Conlin.
Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that the defendants were staying with Rayner's parents during the weekend of Kiera's death.
Conlin had been left in charge of Kiera, while Rayner went to have her nails painted and her parents were out, when the injuries were suffered at some point after 10am that day.
Mr Lickley said: ''Kiera was shaken violently, she may also have suffered further head impact. Such was the nature of that violent shaking, she suffered three recognised injuries, and others, that form what the doctors call a triad of injuries in such cases: bleeding to the surface of the brain; brain injury caused by the loss of oxygen and blood to the brain, and retinal haemorrhaging - bleeding to the eyes.
''Her injuries were so severe, having become unconscious and stopped breathing - she was in her father's hands at the time - she suffered a heart attack.
''She never recovered and was allowed to die the following day, the doctors unable to save her.
''She hadn't suffered those injuries as a result of choking or vomiting on her bottle as her father said but as a result of violent shaking by the adult holding her, her own father.''
He added that Conlin had inflicted the ''terrible'' injuries ''probably in anger''.
Mr Lickley said that Conlin dialled 999 at 10.47am and said that Kiera was not breathing and was limp and said that she had been sick and choking before she had stopped breathing.
Paramedics attended and managed to restart Kiera's heart as she was taken to Frimley Park Hospital before being transferred to a specialist unit at Southampton General Hospital.
Mr Lickley said: ''But despite that, her injuries were so severe a decision was taken to withdraw support, her life support, because she was brain dead. Life support was withdrawn at 6.20pm (May 7) and Kiera died in her mother's arms at 7pm.''
Mr Lickley said that post mortem examinations showed that Kiera had suffered a rib fracture between four and eight weeks prior to her death with the same rib and another being fractured again about 14 days prior to her death, along with three skull fractures.
She suffered further rib fractures between three and five days prior to her death and showed signs of previously having suffered bleeding to the eyes.
Mr Lickley said that there was ''stress and strain'' in the household and Rayner feared that Conlin might leave her.
He explained that a major cause was the lack of a ''bond'' between Conlin and his daughter and added: ''Ross Conlin had had a good relationship with her but that relationship changed and he became unhappy and stressed by the lack of bond between he, father, and Kiera, daughter.''
Other causes for the stress were money worries, with Conlin taking out short-term loans to shore up their bank account.
Conlin, who worked as a debt collector, had also been experiencing trouble at work and had been facing disciplinary procedures after his performance had ''dipped''.
Conlin's drug use also added to the strain on the household, Mr Lickley said. He added: ''He is a drug user, he smoked cannabis, he smoked cannabis on May 5th, the day before events on May 6th, and historically at least had taken cocaine.
''Such habits indicate a lack of responsibility on behalf of both parents when looking after children.''
Mr Lickley said that Conlin's behaviour, including his use of dating websites, made Rayner fear that he would leave her.
He said: ''These were the worries and concerns of a young mother concerning the stability of her relationship, not wanting to disrupt or break up a family unit.''
Mr Lickley read to the jury a series of text messages between Conlin and Rayner which he said showed the arguments between the two which Conlin told police varied between ''niggling and shouting''.
Mr Lickley said that the text messages showed the strain that the relationship was under and also read another message from Conlin to a friend which showed the difficulties he was having with Kiera.
The message said: ''LOL alright fella. Little missy is a pain in the arse, she's always crying so it's a bit difficult.''
Mr Lickley said that Rayner also told a doctor during an eight-week check-up on February 14 for Kiera that Conlin ''was not forming much of an attachment'' to his daughter.
He said that the doctor advised her to give it time and encourage the father and daughter to spend as much time together as possible.
But by March 25, six weeks before Kiera died, Rayner had a meeting with a member of nursery staff who she told that Kiera kept hurting herself.
Mr Lickley said that she told the staff member that: ''She was quite worried as Kiera kept on hurting herself and had scratches and bruises that were mostly on her arms, legs and face.
''She went on to say that she couldn't get Kiera weighed because she was quite embarrassed about what people might think about the injuries.''
He said that the nursery staff worker had ''never heard anything like that before and advised her to see her GP''.
Conlin and Rayner deny the charges and the trial was adjourned until Monday.