Summer Peace: How five-month-old's life was cut short at hands of her father

She was only five-months-old – and her life was tragically cut short after she suffered fatal brain injuries the hands of her father at her home in Dudley.

Summer Peace had become "difficult to comfort" on the afternoon of September 8, 2017, and had been crying before she later collapsed.

Prosecutors said the baby girl was "intentionally shaken" in a whiplash-style motion by her Peace, which he denied.

Defence barristers claimed Peace may have caused the injuries – but not maliciously – as he "panicked" and lifted his daughter up following her collapse, potentially caused by pneumonia.

Guilty of murder: Philip Peace

Peace called 999 at 4.08pm as Summer struggled to breathe and told the operator there was “something wrong” with his daughter. An ambulance arrived on the scene at 4.11pm where paramedics discovered Summer "unresponsive and limp" and coloured blue, signalling an issue with oxygen entering into her body and cyanosis.

He said he had tried CPR prior to the ambulance crew arriving, where further resuscitation attempts were made en-route to Russells Hall Hospital which she arrived at 4.28pm and was taken into the resuscitation department.

Coverage of the case:

Chest compressions were carried out as her heart had stopped beating, but showed electrical activity on an electrocardiogram monitor. It meant oxygen was not being pumped around the body, which medics tried to fix through the external compressions.

Medics managed to return a pulse from Summer at 4.50pm but she remained in a "very serious" condition, leading to her being transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital where she arrived at 10.30pm.

Doctors established Summer had suffered fatal brain injuries and it was agreed with her parents that her life support would be withdrawn a day later, a judge heard. Summer died at 5.44pm on September 9 around 25 hours after she collapsed, jurors at Birmingham Crown Court were told.

In a police interview, Peace told officers the moment his daughter collapsed was "like a nightmare" and said it was "surreal" and like it "wasn't really happening" as he started to panic.

The father, when questioned over how Summer suffered the brain injuries, said it may have been caused when her head "kind of threw back" after he lifted her up, following her collapse.

Pneumonia

Giving evidence in court, Peace – questioned by his defence counsel – denied shaking Summer and said: "No, of course I would not [do that]" and later said "I wouldn't do anything to hurt her".

A post-mortem of her body found she had developed acute pneumonia, with experts arguing over whether it could lead to her collapse and when it first developed – before or after the collapse.

Dr Tamas Marton, a perinatal and paediatric pathologist, said he was unable to say whether it was present during Summer's collapse – but was unable to find any other pre-existing medical cause to explain her collapse.

Dr Dewi Evans, a consultant paediatrician, said Summer's collapse – in his opinion – would not have been caused by pneumonia and concluded it was caused by head trauma.

Dr Irene Scheinberg told jurors that in her expert opinion the girl had caught pneumonia before she suffered a collapse and later died – and was unable to say what Summer's cause of death was in her opinion.

The five-month-old's post-mortem also revealed she had suffered a series of rib fractures. Dr Scheinberg, a defence witness, said she didn't accept all of them were fractures.

Sergeant Naomi Mauchan from West Midlands Police said: “From the very start, the police investigation sought to establish what caused Summer’s collapse, and yet sadly it will only ever be Philip Peace who knows the sequence of events that afternoon.

"It has been proved during the trial that the account Philip Peace provided to his family, medical professionals, police and, latterly, the jury was a lie.

"The death of a child is one of the most traumatic experiences that any parent could ever suffer and I acknowledge that the grief of Summer’s family may have been compounded by the police investigation into why she died.

"However this enquiry has always focused on seeking justice for Summer. The medical evidence collectively proved that she died from non-accidental injuries, so to dismiss the evidence and opinions of so many expert witnesses would be an injustice to her.

"I would like to extend my thanks to all those who gave evidence during the trial, particularly the paramedics who attended that afternoon and administered immediate medical assistance to Summer, and the doctors from both Russell’s Hall Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital who worked tirelessly to try and save her.

"I commend the members of the jury who have listened to a wide range of medical evidence and witness testimony, which at times has been emotionally difficult, in order to reach their verdict."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News