A DEVASTATED mother has spoken of the heartache at the loss of her baby, as her boyfriend is convicted of causing the child’s death.
Georgina Hummel made the statement following the conviction today (Wednesday, September 19) of Jerome Edwards, who was found guilty of manslaughter after forcefully shaking 11-month-old Crystal Hall-Hummel.
Following the two-week trial at Lewis Crown Court, the jury took more than 12 hours to reach its unanimous verdict, after rejecting an initial murder charge against Edwards.
The 27 year-old, of Bridgefield Close, Midhurst, denied the charges against him. He claimed to have attempted to resuscitate the baby (who was later found to have suffered injuries consistent with a car accident) after he awoke to find her limp and blue while babysitting at girlfriend Georgina’s home in Nursery Road, Worthing, on May 13 last year.
Edwards said he woke up to the baby kicking him on that morning and he then wrapped her in a blanket and propped her on the sofa with a bottle in her mouth.
He claimed he then went back to bed, although he never meant to go to sleep and when he woke up, the baby was “gurgling” and making a choking noise so he shook her in “panic” to revive her.
Giving evidence, Edwards said: “Of course I never meant to hurt her. She was my little girl. It’s really hard but I’m having to blame myself. Crystal and Georgina were everything to me, they were my world. I saw Crystal like a daughter from day one.”
The prosection had argued that he had temporarily lost his temper with Crystal and shaken her “hard.”
According to medical evidence at the trial, Edwards was found to have shaken the young child so severely (on hearing its unhappy teething cries) that he caused the baby “a triad of injuries” including to its head and jaw.
Upon post-mortem, Crystal, who had no major previous health issues,was also found to have suffered a detached retina – before suffering a terminal cardiac arrest.
Speaking at the conclusion of the trial, a clearly emotional Georgina said: “It is very difficult to explain how I feel. A mixture of emotions -anger, pain, sorrow, guilt.
“My life and my family’s has been torn apart. Before this trial began, all I wanted to know was what happened that night, why did my daughter die?
“I was not fully aware of the extent of her injuries and the distress she must have felt before she lost consciousness. How can someone do that to an innocent baby, who never caused harm to anyone and who could not fight back or defend herself?
“I can only pray that my little girl did not suffer too much in those last few hours of her life. That would be unbearable.
“Crystal’s life had only just begun and was cut short by the violent hands of Jerome Edwards, a man both Crystal and I trusted. She was just a baby.
“For the jury to find him guilty, there has been justice for my baby’s death and action taken for the person responsible. I know it will not bring Crystal back, but it will ensure he has plenty of time to think about what he did to a defenceless, innocent baby and the pain he has caused me and my family.
“People now know that he is an evil man capable of killing. I can only pray that in the future he is never given responsibility for a baby or child and he is never again given the trust that I gave him, as my punishment for his crime is worse that any punishment he could ever be given.
“To lose a child is bad enough, but to lose one knowing that they suffered a violent and cruel death at the hands of someone you trust is heartbreaking. Crystal is irreplaceable. I miss her so much and I will never stop loving her.”
In sentencing Edwards to eight years in prison, Judge Anthony Scott-Gall said : “Crystal was extremely vulnerable, and the triad of injuries that she suffered were from having been violently shaken, which included an impact to her skull.
You momentarily lost your temper and shook her with such force which caused those injuries. After this, you called 999 in the hope that you could avoid the responsibilty of what had been done- from what you implausibly said had been a case of choking.
“There was no premeditated attempt to kill the child and I have no doubt you feel real remorse for having caused her death and snuffed out the prospects of her life ahead.”
The judge praised Georgina for showing courage in giving evidence and attending every day of the trial, offering his sympathy.
Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes described it as “a heartbreaking case.” He said: “This is a desperately sad case. Crystal was left in the care of Edwards by her mother who trusted him to look after her.
“What caused him to act in such a way as to leave her fatally injured may never be fully explained, but although he has recognised that he was in sole care of her when she collapsed he has never provided an adequate explanation of what he did to the little girl or taken responsibility for his criminal actions. In a huge betrayal to both Crystal and her mother he has portrayed himself as the person who tried to save her, when in fact he was the cause of the massive injuries which she could not survive.
“Our thoughts are with Crystal’s young mother, Georgina, who has conducted herself with remarkable fortitude over the last 15 months or so, and her family.”