A three-month-old baby girl died at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, most likely by being shaken and “thrown against a surface such as into her cot,” a court heard on Tuesday January 12.
Although not the biological father of Millie Rose Burdett, Davey Everson had expressed the wish “to take her on and be a father to her,” after she was born, a jury was told.
However, within weeks of Millie Rose’s birth, questions had been raised about his suitability for the role and social services had become involved, it was claimed.
At St Albans Crown Court today, Mr Everson, 23, went on trial pleading not guilty to the murder of the baby who was known as Millie.
Also in the dock was the baby’s mother, 25-year-old Kirsty Burdett, who pleads not guilty to causing or allowing the death of Millie by failing to take such steps as would be reasonably expected of her to protect the child from the risk of significant harm from Mr Everson.
Opening the prosecution’s case, David Spens QC told the jury “This case concerns the death of Millie Rose Burdett, a young baby.
“She was born on October 10 2018 and died on January 11 2019 aged just three months.”
He told the court the baby had been admitted to hospital on December 15 2018 with multiple fractures and a severe brain injury, from which she never recovered.
“The person alone with her at the time the fatal injuries were inflicted was Davey Everson, the partner of her mother, Kirsty Burdett,” he said.
Mr Spens went on: “He has never provided an account that explains how her injuries were caused. That is because the prosecution say the truth is he violently assaulted her in anger, most likely by shaking or throwing her against a surface such as into a cot.”
“The prosecution case against Miss Burdett is that she failed to take reasonable steps to protect MIllie from Mr Everson despite the clear signs that he posed a serious risk to her; that is the case in a nutshell,” he said
The court was told Kirsty Burdett was pregnant with Millie when she split up from the child’s father.
She then formed a relationship with Mr Everson, who was then 21 and lived in Haselbury Road, Edmonton, London.
The court heard he would visit Kirsty regularly at her home in Morningside, Nightingale Road, Rickmansworth and stay with her at weekends.
Mr Spens told the jury: “Davey Everson accompanied Kirsty Burdett when Millie Rose was born and he had expressed his wish to take her on – to be a father to her.
“However, from early on in the relationship, it became apparent that there was cause for concern about Davey Everson, his treatment of Kirsty Burdett and his suitability as a parent.”
The jury was told he was “aggressive and verbally unpleasant” towards Miss Burdett and was “rough and violent” towards her new baby daughter.
“It is plain now Millie suffered injuries of varying degrees of severity during her short life,” said Mr Spens
The court was told around a month after her birth, Millie had bruises on her cheeks that Mr Everson was to later accept responsibility for.
On November 17 2018 police attended Miss Burdett’s home after she and the defendant had been heard arguing.
In a police report, it had been recorded: “There has been a verbal argument between the couple due to the stress of their one month old baby. No offence has been disclosed.”
That same month, said the prosecutor, in a phone call to a social worker, Mr Everson said a bruise to Millie Rose’s face had been caused accidentally as he was “burping” her.
During the call, the court was told, the social worker could hear Miss Burdett in the background who was plainly able to listen into what was being said.
Mr Spens said: “Pausing there, is winding a possible explanation for bruises to a baby’s face? If not, Davey Everson has injured Millie and lied to Social Services, with Kirsty Burdett’s acquiescence.”
On Tuesday November 20 2018, said Mr Spens, Millie Rose was taken to Watford General Hospital after she had been “screaming in pain.”
He said it was subsequently diagnosed she was suffering from “colic,” a term used when a baby cries a lot but there’s no obvious cause.
But, following her death, the post-mortem examination was to reveal fractures to the baby’s ribs that had been sustained at some point around 18 November.
“Was that the injury that was causing Millie’s discomfort and pain, that lead to Kirsty Burdett taking her to the hospital on or round about November 20? If so, could Kirsty Burdett not be aware of what caused it?” said Mr Spens.
The jury heard a member of Miss Burdett’s family had seen Mr Everson’s frustration when trying to feed the baby from a bottle which appeared to be too big for her.
At one point the witness said he had “shoved the bottle hard into her mouth saying f…… drink it – take it you f…… bitch.”
Mr Spens said although Miss Burdett had not witnessed that particular incident, she was later to admit in interview that there was an occasion that Everson had shoved a bottle into the baby’s mouth so hard that it made her mouth bleed.
On another occasion, to explain bruising to Millie Rose’s face, Kirsty Burdett is said to have told her mother that she had fallen from a car seat which had not properly fitted her buggy.
After the baby’s death she was interviewed and said it was a lie and that her boyfriend had caused the bruising.
“She was, she said, covering up for him,” said the prosecutor.
The jury was then told how, on December 11 2018, a health visitor who went to Miss Burdett’s home noted there were indications the baby was failing to thrive.
The Health visitor gave the mum advice as to “upping her calorie intake” and also noticed there was a bruise on each of the baby’s cheeks the size of finger marks.
“They were pale bruises and were almost faded but she could tell they were bruises,” said Mr Spens.
He said, asked by the health visitor how the baby had obtained them, the mother said Everson was “heavy handed” with her.
“By December it must have been clear to Kirsty Burdett that Davey Everson had serious problems with controlling his anger,” said the prosecutor, who he said posed a continuing and serious risk to the baby.
“However, rather than reporting his behaviour and ending the relationship, Kirsty Burdett had defended him, covered up for him,” he said.
The court was told that, following a 999 call made from the mother’s phone on December 15 during which the operator was told Everson Millie wasn’t breathing properly, she was taken by ambulance from her home to Watford General Hospital.
At the house, Mr Everson is said to have claimed to a paramedic that he had been feeding her in a bedroom when she choked and stopped breathing.
Mr Spens said he told a police officer who went to the house that he had been feeding the baby from a bottle of milk in a bedroom and when he tried to burp her, her head and arms went backwards and she became floppy.
At the hospital a CT scan showed the baby was suffering from a bleed on her brain which, said the prosecutor, suggested a “strong possibility of a non-accidental injury having taken place.”
She had bruises on her left forearm and left forehead.
Later that day Mr Everson was arrested at the hospital on suspicion of attempted murder.
Millie was transferred from Watford General Hospital to Kings College Hospital in London
In a police interview he declined to snswer questions and gave officers a prepared statement in which he said:” At no time did I cause any harm to Millie Rose. I do not wish to make any further comment.”
In Miss Burdett’s first interview with police officers, Mrs Spens said she told them her boyfriend could be “heavy handed” with the baby and went on: “All I can think he’s put the milk in too far down; she’s drunk too much – that’s why she has choked. But that doesn’t explain the bleed on the brain …”
It was also discovered the baby had suffered multiple fractures of different ages to both sides of her chest and to the front and back ribs.
In addition, she had a fracture to her right femur and a fracture to her left tibia which, said Mr Spens, was “consistent with the to and fro from movement of the legs during violent shaking.”
He said although the fractures the baby had suffered were non-life threatening, the brain injury was severe and, unable to breathe on her own, she was put on a ventilator.
She continued go remain in a coma and the opinions of the neurology and neuroradiology teams were that her head injuries were so severe that there was little hope of independent survival.
On January 11 2019, Mr Spens said it was determined that ongoing intensive care support was futile and would be withdrawn.
Millie died that day aged just three months.
In addition to the murder charge he faces, Mr Everson also pleads not guilty to a charge of cruelty to a person under 16 involving another young child who cannot be named .
Miss Burdett also pleads not guilty to the same charge involving the same child.
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