Brain surgeon says baby death 'caused by trauma injury'

By Marion Brennan | Walsall | Crime | Published:

A brain specialist ruled out any other reason for a baby's fatal collapse than she had been shaken or suffered an impact injury, or both, a court heard.

Birmingham Crown Court

Top surgeon Jay Jayamohan, of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, said that Hope Smith suffered a severe brain injury at the same time she fell floppy and unconscious in her father's arms at the family's Walsall Wood home.

He said that presented with these symptoms, doctors would routinely investigate for meningitis, check whether the child had choked on a toy or had any underlying brain disease, or whether there had been a sudden 'traumatic event'.

Scans showed that Hope had suffered bleeding on her brain causing raised pressure, injury to the brain tissue itself and lack of oxygen to the brain.

"It is clear that this is secondary to a trauma," Mr Jayamohan told Birmingham Crown Court. "The baby had a severe trauma injury to her brain which has caused her collapse. It's of a severe level, I'm satisfied the baby had no preceding illness."

Neil Smith, 33, on trial for his daughter's murder, is said to have shaken her or thrown her against a soft surface, such as a sofa, after her cries disturbed his viewing of a football match on the television.

The jury has heard that he had been left alone with the four-month-old child at the family's Salters Road bungalow on August 4, 2017, while his wife Nicola had gone out for the evening.

Both parents said that Hope had been well and behaving normally that day.

Mr Jayamohan said: "There is no way that she would have been feeding, interacting or looking normal after such an injury.


"She would have been unwell – not just peaky but showing an obvious change straight away, that would, and should, have worried a carer."

The jury has been told that a serious accident at work in 2015 left Smith with epilepsy and anger management issues. He was 'on a short fuse', said prosecutor Ms Miranda Moore, QC, which had led to arguments over a range of issues, as trivial as the washing up to how to spend a large amount of money which Smith had received as a result of his injuries.

Hope eventually died on November 9, 2017, when doctors tuned off her life support machine. Smith, of Coleridge Close, Willenhall, denies murder. The case continues.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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