THE trial of a man charged with murdering his teenage ex-girlfriend’s baby by “forcefully shaking” the 11-month-old has begun.
Unemployed Jerome Edwards, 27, of Bridgefield Close, Midhurst, denied murdering Crystal Hall-Hummel – the daughter of 19-year-old Georgina Hummel – when his two-week trial started on Monday (September 3).
The incident happened on May 13, last year, at Mr Edwards’ former flat in Nursery Road, Worthing, when he was babysitting Crystal so Georgina could catch up on her sleep.
Jennifer Knight, prosecuting, said: “She was found to have injuries consistent with having been shook forcefully, and of having some kind of impact to the top of her head.
“He was the only person present at the time of Crystal’s death and must be responsible for these injuries.
“He must have lost his patience with her. He must have lost his temper, perhaps for only a short period of time, in which he picked up Crystal, and shook her hard. He knew he would be likely to cause serious harm.”
Following the incident, Crystal was found to have brain and eye haemorrhaging, and brain damage.
On the night before her death, the court heard how Georgina and Mr Edwards were at his flat when it was decided that Crystal would stay the night.
Miss Knight said Mr Edwards swaddled her in a blanket with her arms by her sides, and rested a pillow on her chest, with a bottle of milk in her mouth – despite the fact she had a cold.
She said he woke up at 8.30am the next morning to Crystal kicking him, so he wrapped her in a blanket, placed her on the sofa, and went back to bed. She told the court when he next woke up, he heard a gurgling and choking noise “like air being released from a balloon”, and he found her to be purple.
Miss Knight added: “At 9.52am, Mr Edwards called an ambulance. The operator talked him through CPR. They arrived four minutes later and found Crystal lying on the floor in the bedroom.
“They noted that she was already blue all over. He told police officers he put his fingers down her throat, to see if she had swallowed anything.”
Paramedics spent 50 minutes resuscitating Crystal, but she never regained consciousness. She was taken to Worthing Hospital, then transfered to St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where she died the next afternoon.
Dorian Lovell-Pank, defending, said: “In an attempt by Jerome Edwards to help her to breathe, he shook Crystal – he checked her mouth. He tried to get her to breathe.
“This, we say, was never a murder. Ignorance? Yes. Incompetence? Probably. Negligence? Possibly. But murder? We say never.”
Giving evidence, Miss Hummel said: “I know that he (Jerome) would not do anything to hurt her. He loved looking after her and showing her off to all his friends. He loved her.”
Talking about what happened on the night of her baby’s death, she told the court she received a phone call from Mr Edwards in the morning.
She said: “He was saying that Crystal had stopped breathing. I thought he was joking at first.
“They were asking me to make a decision when to pull her tube out but I just didn’t ever want to do it – I knew there was no going back.”
Georgina said her dad had to make the decision. “They christened her just before they took it out,” Georgina said. “I told her that I was going to miss her. I just broke down.”
The trial continues.