BEXLEYHEATH: Baby death trial - Mother accused of murder gives evidence

First published in News News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , deputy news editor

A MOTHER accused of murdering her 21-month-old son told the Old Bailey today (April 29) that her child had been "very clumsy".

Bobby Louch died on December 29, 2008, in Halcot Avenue, Bexleyheath.

He had multiple injuries, including bleeding to the brain and abdomen, bruising and two fractured ribs.

Collette Harris, aged 30, of Chapel Close, Crayford, and her then boyfriend James Phillips, aged 25, of Dale View, Erith, deny murdering him.

Harris told the court that Bobby had been "very clumsy" and "tried to run before he could walk".

She claimed that marks were sometimes left on Bobby's face when he used to bang his head against the bars of his cot.

The mother was asked about an incident which led to Bobby being taken to Darent Valley Hopsital, Dartford, on December 9, 2008 with a fractured ankle.

Harris told the court that the previous day she had left Bobby with Phillips and gone out for half an hour.

Upon returning she was in the kitchen when she heard the child making "a sort of whimpering noise".

When she tried to stand Bobby up, he would fall over, the mother said.

She told the jury: "I though he'd twisted his ankle."

Harris added: "I thought he might have humped off the window sill or off the sofa."

The next day she took him to hospital where his ankle was put in a plaster cast and nurses noticed bruises on his head.

Harris told the court: "One of the nurses brushed his head and saw what I call the usual bruise on his forehead."

Her barrister Nicholas Syfret asked: "Did the atmosphere change?"

"Completely," Harris replied.

She said: "I was all over the place and I was crying."

Asked why, she replied: "Because they thought I'd hurt my baby."

The court heard how her relationship with Phillips had begun on October 11, 2008, shortly after she broke-up with Bobby's father Dan Louch, but that by December the relationship was "starting to deteriorate".

Harris, an occasional cocaine user, said Phillips would smoke cannabis on a daily basis and would sometimes also take cocaine on nights out.

But she denied that any drug taking took place in front of Bobby and said she had never smacked the child.

Harris and Phillips deny an alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.

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