MURDER TRIAL: Blackpool man claims he shook baby son to wake him

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

A Blackpool man accused of murdering his son claimed he shook the defenceless six-week-old in an attempt to wake him after finding him ‘floppy and blue’ in his bed.

David Christie, 35, of Wyre Grove, denies murdering his six-week-old son Marshall, who died from serious head injuries on March 15, 2017.

Preston Crown Court heard how Christie had called emergency services at around 4am on March 10 to report that his baby son was not breathing.

But first he called his cousin Elizabeth McLachlan who went to the house and urged him to dial 999.

Marshall was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and was transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital later that morning, where he died five days later having never regained consciousness.

Medical examinations later revealed he had suffered bleeding on the surface of and inside his brain, and ‘could never have survived’.

Nicolas Johnson, prosecuting, said: “Christie told the doctor that Marshall hadn’t been well for the last two days and that he had been coughing.

“He put him down on his belly at around 3.40am that morning. Five minutes later he noticed fluid coming out of Marshall’s mouth and that he was blue and floppy.”

In a statement made to the police, Christie said that he had been up several times during the night to feed Marshall and give him Infacol medicine, as he was suffering from colic.

He said he ‘turned him over and shook his belly while he laid in his Moses basket’ after finding him unresponsive. In a subsequent police interview, he confessed to picking up and shaking Marshall.

Members of the public gallery wiped away tears when video footage was played showing Christie demonstrating to police how he shook his son in, he says, an attempt to wake him.

He said: “I took him out of his Moses basket and shook him.” Vigorously shaking the doll, he added: “Like, ‘Come on, son, come on’.”

Mr Johnson said: “It was the shaking that caused the collapse. This was not a case of a momentary lapse by a sleep-deprived father. Marshall had suffered other injuries as well.”

These included two fractured ribs, believed to have been caused on separate occasions, and a cut and bruising to his genitals that showed ‘no signs of healing’.

He was also found to have bleeding on his brain that pre-dated March 10, and had bleeding around his optic nerves associated with a shaking assault.

One doctor said he had suffered from ‘serial shaking events’.

Mr Johnson said: “Such was the pressure within Marshall’s head that he could never have survived.”

Christie had been the sole guardian for six-week-old Marshall while his partner, Marshall’s mother, Sarah Low received treatment for schizophrenia at The Harbour mental health hospital.

The couple had been identified as needing extra support and supervision, but by March 8 it was thought Christie had made such good progress that his contact time with key workers was reduced from six times a week to just three.

Mr Johnson said: “Christie gave everybody the impression of being a loving and devoted father.”

On March 1, Christie had been visited by a health visitor, Holly Edwards, to discuss safe sleeping arrangements. Miss Edwards had stripped Marshall but noticed ‘nothing of any concern’.

On March 8, Christie met with a member of the families in need team from Blackpool Council while Marshall was being bathed. She said he had no visible injuries at this time.

On March 9, the day before Marshall was hospitalised, Christie asked a support worker at The Harbour about a blue mark on his son’s head.

The support worker said she believed the mark was a vein showing through Marshall’s thin skin, to which Christie replied: “Thank God for that.”