Mother accused of killing baby told social worker ‘you want to take her, then take her’
A mother accused of murdering her 10-week-old daughter told a social worker “you want to take her, then take her” during a visit hours before the baby’s collapse, a court heard.
Lily-Mai Hurrell Saint George suffered 18 rib fractures, a leg fracture, and a fatal head injury allegedly caused by forceful shaking at the hands of Lauren Saint George and Darren Hurrell, both 25.
Haringey social worker Theresa Ferguson said Saint George (pictured) was “despondent”, sleep-deprived and responding in a “very immature” way when she visited the family on January 31, 2018.
Around five hours later, Saint George would call 999 and Lily-Mai was taken to hospital, where she died two days later with injuries in keeping with suspected physical abuse, jurors heard.
Saint George, of Enfield in north London, and Hurrell, of Alvaston in Derby, are on trial at Wood Green Crown Court – where both deny murder, manslaughter, causing or allowing a death and child cruelty.
The mother had known mental health issues and was in need of treatment, but had not been registered with a local GP surgery, the court heard.
On a visit hours before the 999 call, Ms Ferguson, who was assigned to the case after concerns were raised about the parents’ ability to care for Lily-Mai, noted Saint George appeared “angry” and depressed.
The mother allegedly stormed out of the room midway through a conversation about options for a residential placement, which included the possibility of Hurrell and the baby going without Saint George.
“She was very despondent and appeared very immature in her responses. She said things like ‘you want to take her, then take her’,” Ms Ferguson said.
But the social services worker was “confident” Hurrell would be able to safeguard Lily-Mai for that evening while arrangements were planned, jurors heard.
Giving evidence on Thursday, Ms Ferguson said: “I had quite a thorough conversation with Darren with making it clear that he wasn’t to leave Lily-Mai with Lauren.”
“I was confident that Darren could safeguard Lily-Mai (that evening),” she added.
The social worker broke down in tears in the witness box as she recalled how she had gone above her manager at one point to voice the strength of her concerns about the family’s situation.
“I went above my manager and head of service and contacted the service manager,” Ms Ferguson explained.
“I was the only support,” she added later.
“You had to be guided by those more experienced than you. You even went above your manager at one point… But your hands were really tied as to what you could personally achieve?” Paul Mendelle QC, defending Hurrell, asked.
“Yeah,” Ms Ferguson tearfully replied.
The court heard Ms Ferguson’s caseload at the time of the incident was as high as 42 allocated children.
Lily-Mai had been discharged into her parents’ care just days earlier, despite concerns among hospital staff, jurors were told.
The court heard the pair had been housed in a small flat while their baby was still in Barnet Hospital, having been born prematurely at 31 weeks.
When Ms Ferguson arrived for the home visit, she found the couple wearing “night clothes” and in bed, jurors were told.
She also noticed that Lily-Mai “looked slightly pale” and appeared to have mottled skin, the court heard.
A health visitor who met the family on January 30 concluded that Lily-Mai’s needs were being “satisfactorily met”, but expressed “serious concerns” to Ms Ferguson, it was said.
In turn, the social worker told her the threshold for a child care protection plan had been met because of the couple’s volatility, the court heard.
That legal process, in the form of a legal gateway meeting, began the following day and Ms Ferguson visited the flat at around 3pm to explain options for a residential placement for the family or for Hurrell and the baby to go in without Saint George.
Lily-Mai was taken to North Middlesex Hospital on January 31, but died two days later on February 2 after being transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, prosecutors say.
The trial, which is due to last five weeks, continues.
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA.