Blackpool baby murder trial: Dad seen 'holding baby up by the ankle' in lead up to her death

The trial of a father accused of murdering his baby daughter has started for a second time at Preston Crown Court.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 3:45 pm

Four-month old Willow Lee was found seriously injured at a house on Onslow Road in Layton, Blackpool on Thursday, December 3, 2020.

She was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where a CT scan showed a brain injury, and was later transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where she died on Sunday, December 6.

Willow’s father Jordan Lee, 28, of Onslow Road, denies her murder.

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Willow Lee

The original jury was discharged and a new jury sworn in on Tuesday morning.

They were told a post mortem examination deemed the tot had sustained a serious traumatic head injury consistent with being assaulted and "in keeping with forceful shaking and a probable impact to the head".

It is alleged the moment of impact was caught on audio in a Snapchat video recorded by Lee's brother Daniel, who lived with the family and had become concerned about the dad's conduct towards the crying baby throughout the day.

Jordan Lee claims the baby rolled off the sofa and struck her head on a glass milkshake bottle, while he was playing an X Box game, but the prosecution argues the injury is not consistent with his account.

Prosecuting, David McLachlan QC told jurors Willow, who had not been a planned baby, lived in a two bedroomed house with Lee, her mum Jade Bell, who works as a care assistant, and Lee's brother Daniel.

On December 1 Jade finished work early because Willow Lee was being sick at her mother's home, but a subsequent doctor's consultation deemed her to be "alert and happy".

The court heard on December 3, Willow woke up at 4am and was given a bottle by her mum, who put her in their bed and later went to work.

The couple exchanged various texts, which were read to jurors, in which Lee said the baby had 'headbutted him'.

But at 1.18pm Lee's brother sent her a Messenger message which said: " He is seriously not fit to be (a) father. I feel so sorry for Willow."

Mr McLachlan said: " Understandably you can well imagine the concern the recipient of that message would have felt because at 13.22 who is responding to it - it's Jade Bell.

"'What's happened' she says in that message. Her concern continues.

"' Is Willow ok', 'Everything ok xxx'

"Well, according to Daniel Lee, Jordan Lee's brother, everything was not okay, it was in fact far from okay.

"You've got a brother calling his brother's girlfriend to express some concern about a baby.

"It wasn't ok, members of the jury, because Daniel Lee gave some insight into that when he said this: 'She been pretty much crying all day and he's getting really angry and shouting at her'."

The court heard he went on to say he "didn't want to scare" her but when he had offered to help his brother with the baby he "literally picked her up by the ankle and said here you go" before putting her back down.

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Their next door neighbour overheard Lee shouting 'get her in that f***ing chair' and was so concerned at hearing Lee shouting at the baby that she texted her dad.

Willow's mum sent texts back to Daniel Lee, with one reading: " Please please make sure he doesnt hurt her in any way" and another responding: "cos he shouts and he's rough with her. Please just make sure my baby is safe Dan."

In the afternoon Jordan texted his partner saying 'Just got her to sleep on me xxx'.

She responded: "Ok. If you need anything or a break I'll get my mum to come get her for a bit or something."

At 4.18pm Jordan Lee texted her again saying: "Hey me and Willow have just woken up xxx" and things seemed calm.

Mr McLachlan said at 5pm Daniel Lee could hear Jordan Lee shouting words such as 'Will you shut up?' , and when he again offered to take Willow off his brother so he could calm down Jordan Lee replied: "If I can't stop her from crying what are you going to be able to do about it?"

He added: "Daniel therefore continued to be able to hear him shouting downstairs and so it was he went on to record events as a series of Snapchat recordings - you will see and hear those recordings. They are just less than a minute in duration. They are video recordings but the camera was pointing towards the floor.

But what you will hear is a matter for you that may be important in this case.

"In the first you will hear a baby crying. In the next one 20 minutes later you will similarly hear a baby crying, that baby being Willow Lee.

"And finally at 6.04pm you will hear another recording of a baby crying and it will be a matter for you if the baby was crying in a different way.

"Daniel Lee who was making the recording upstairs from his bedroom heard a thud.

"Jordan Lee was then heard to say 'Willow, Willow, Willow what's the matter'?"

The court heard he ran up to his brother with Willow, in his hands, unresponsive.

An ambulance was called and at the hospital medics found she had suffered a brain injury.

Jordan Lee told police he had been playing on his X Box when the baby rolled off the sofa, hit her head or neck on a glass milkshake bottle and "went floppy."

Asked if he had been violent with her he said: "I've shouted at her but I've not been violent with her that's one thing I couldn't do."

On December 4 Willow was transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital but died on December 6.

Afterwards a specialist examined retinal haemorrhages in her eyes, found there were no medical conditions to cause bleeding in her eyes and that the feature was in keeping with a severe traumatic head injury.

(proceeding)

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