Baby girl died 'after assault by mother or father during heated row'


A 16-week-old baby collapsed and died after she was assaulted by either her mother or father during a heated argument, a court has heard.

Tequiilah Burke was found to have brain injuries and bruising after she was rushed to hospital in December 2013.

Her mother, Victoria Burke, 24, and her partner, Paul Nicholson, 20, from Crigdon Hill, East Denton, Newcastle, deny causing or allowing the death of the baby.

Burke had taken a new job offering drinks in a nightclub so she could buy Christmas presents for her four children, but Nicholson was unhappy that she would be associating with other men, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said she came home at 6.20am on Saturday December 14, sparking a "heated argument".

"It is therefore likely, the prosecution submit, that Tequiilah was injured during the course of this argument by one or other or both the defendants. Each of them was exhibiting a loss of temper towards the other," he said.

Just after 8am, Nicholson dialled 999 to say Tequiilah was not breathing.

Paramedics arrived and found she was cold and her skin looked waxy, the jury heard.

She was rushed to the Royal Victoria Infirmary where medics were unable to save her.

Post-mortem investigations showed she had four separate "components of injury", Mr Smith said.

There was recent bruising which was not consistent with appropriate handling of a small baby, brain swelling, brain bleeding and severe and widespread retinal bleeding.

Mr Smith said: "The only reasonable conclusion is that Tequiilah's death was caused by a deliberate assault by an adult or adults within that household, as a result of which she rapidly collapsed and died."

There was also evidence of an older head injury, the court heard.

The prosecution cannot prove which defendant inflicted the injuries and which stood by and did nothing to prevent it.

Tequiilah, who was born prematurely, would have been "inconsolable" if she was suffering from a brain bleed, Mr Smith said.

The jury heard that Nicholson told a health visitor he was Tequiilah's father, while Burke denied it, but said he was bringing her up as his own.

Mr Justice Jay told the jurors that some of the evidence they would hear was "distressing".

Both defendants deny using violence towards the baby and told police they were not responsible for her death.

The trial is expected to last up to four weeks.