Doctor quizzed over resuscitation at baby murder trial

By Marion Brennan | Burntwood | Crime | Published:

Hospital staff are said to have used twice the recommended pressure when trying to resuscitate a nine-week-old baby alleged to have been murdered by his parents, a court heard.

Emma Cole and Luke Morgan arriving at court. Picture: PA/Matthew Cooper

Medics at Walsall Manor Hospital also used a technique on baby Tyler Morgan not normally performed in this country, it was claimed.

Luke Morgan, 26, and Emma Cole, 22, are alleged to have deliberately smothered the infant or compressed his chest at their home in Sunnymead Road, Burntwood, in the early hours of April 29, 2014.

They had been drinking and had argued, the jury has heard.

The child was found to have facial haemorrhages caused by lack of oxygen, nasal abrasions and three fractured ribs.

He also had a bite mark on his right arm.

A post-mortem concluded that the cause of death was “unascertained”.

Stafford Crown Court was told that pressing on a baby’s chest with two fingers is the established practice of resuscitating infants in the UK although wrapping two hands around the baby’s body and pressing with the thumbs is increasingly being used.


Dr Kathryn Ward, a consultant paediatrician, said that rib fractures were not a common finding with CPR and that parents who carry it out tend to be too gentle.

Earlier the trial heard that Cole attempted resuscitation on Tyler under guidance from 999 operators.

In a report, she wrote that applying pressure on a baby’s chest to a third of the depth between its front and back was more effective in stimulating the heart than a quarter of the depth, and safer than a half.

Mr Kevin Hegarty, QC, defending Cole, asked Dr Ward: “When you wrote your report did you have any idea that at Walsall Manor Hospital on 29 April 2016 the two-thumb technique was being used in the resuscitation of Tyler Morgan – and that the compression depth was two-thirds?”


Dr Ward said that she was not aware, adding: “I’d be very interested to know how a nurse would be capable of asessing that.”

She also said: “In an emergency the vast number of clinicians would not be able to distinguish.”

The court heard that the number of CPR-related rib fractures has risen from just over one per cent to almost nine per cent in a decade – attributed to the increased use of the two-thumb method of chest compressions.

Under cross-examination by Mr Mark Heywood, QC, defending Morgan, Dr Ward agreed the baby’s bruises may have been caused by gripping or handling.

But she said: “I think the person would have realised that handling a baby in that way was inappropriate.”

Morgan and Cole, both of Byron Close, Burntwood, deny murder, manslaughter, causing or allowing an infant’s death and child cruelty.

The trial continues.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan

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

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