AN EIGHT-week-old baby was shaken to death by one parent and the other allowed it to happen, a court heard.

Jurors were told they must decide which one murdered their infant and which failed to prevent it.

Tiffany Tate, 21, and her former partner Michael Roe, 32, are both accused of inflicting fatal injury to their daughter Holly.

The premature baby suffered multiple, non-accidental and abusive head injuries caused by violent shaking with or without impact and 12 rib fractures in her short life, Lewes Crown Court heard.

Both are also accused of allowing her death at the hands of the other, Sally Howes QC told the jury.

Tate frowned and scowled at Ms Howes as she started to open the case against her.

Roe broke down and wiped his eyes as the court heard details of how Holly died.

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Former foster child Tate was only 19 when she moved in with Roe. They lived together at Alderbrook Road in Crowborough when Holly was born two months premature on July 14, 2018.

Tate admitted she had trouble bonding with her daughter while she was still in the premature baby unit and this continued after Holly was allowed home.

When the baby cried, she became frustrated and panicked, Ms Howes said.

Roe told a health visitor he took over night feeds as Tate had no patience with Holly.

The court heard Tate agreed she told her former partner she felt like throwing the baby against the wall.

Ms Howes told the jury Roe had no patience with Holly and tried to feed her through the nose using a syringe.

Emergency services were called to the house eight weeks later in the early hours of Monday, September 10, 2018, after the couple reported the baby was having breathing difficulties.

Holly was found to be cold, not breathing and with no heart activity at all, Ms Howes said. Paramedics battled to save her before she was taken to Pembury Hospital in Tunbridge Wells where she was pronounced dead.

Ms Howes said the jury would hear from experts who could explain complex evidence to them in easy to understand terms.

“There is a pattern adopted by these experts,” Ms Howes said.

“First they explain what they found.

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“Second, they can put an age on these findings.

“Thirdly, they address what could possibly have caused these findings,” Ms Howes said.

Port mortem examinations showed numerous signs of injury on her tiny body.

She had suffered head injuries on three occasions before her death and 12 rib fractures. The first was a few weeks before her death, the second several days before and the final brain injury within 48 hours, Ms Howes said. The pattern of injuries showed they were the result of non-accidental and abusive head trauma, consultant neuropathologist Prof Safa Al-Sarrau said.

Forensic Pathologist Dr Charlotte Randall said death was due to head injury.

The likely cause would have been violent shaking and forceful impact. Multiple fracture injuries to Holly’s ribcage were also often associated with shaking-type head injury, Ms Howes said.

Former consultant paediatric neurosurgeon Peter Richards said in his opinion Holly’s behaviour would not have been normal following the injuries she suffered.

“He would have anticipated her being unconscious from the point of injury.

“The injuries she presented with were not compatible with normal behaviour and, in particular, not compatible with feeding,” Ms Howes said.

Dr Nicola Cleghorn said Holly would have been extremely distressed by the pain from her rib fractures.

They would not have been caused during resuscitation, Ms Howes said. “It is highly unlikely a fracture can occur accidentally without a carer being aware of the event and acting immediately.

“Dr Cleghorn considers the most likely cause of the rib fractures to be an inflicted injury, most likely excessive squeezing around her chest and, in conjunction with the opinions about the traumatic brain injury would support there having been a shaking episode,” Ms Howes said.

During police interviews, Tate said Roe had asked her not to tell their health visitor he had tried to feed the baby through her nose with a syringe. Tate said the baby had stopped breathing following the feeding attempt a fortnight before Holly died.

She had wanted to tell police about the incident but “he said it wasn’t important”. She admitted telling Roe she felt like throwing Holly against the wall. “She said she would never do that,” Ms Howes said. “She denied shaking Holly. Mr Roe said he heard Tiffany say ‘sometimes she frustrates me so much I could throw her up against the wall. I’ve had her ready in my hands to do it’.”

Roe, who had paediatric first aid training, tried to give Holly CPR after finding her cold and unresponsive in her Moses basket.

He told police he would smoke three cannabis joints a night.

Tate and Roe, both unemployed, deny murder and causing or allowing the death of their baby.

The trial continues.