Blackpool mum Laura Langley on trial at Preston Crown Court accused of baby daughter's murder
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Laura Lee Langley, 37, appeared in the dock at Preston Crown Court before The Honourable Mr Justice Morris and a jury of four men and eight women today (Thursday, October 12).
Langley, of Belgrave Road, Blackpool, inflicted “terrible injuries” on her seven-weeks-old daughter Edith and squeezed her to death, the jury was told.
A post-mortem examination found Edith had sustained 33 fractures, with virtually all of her ribs broken, Preston Crown Court heard.
Her mother denies murdering the child who was found unresponsive at their home in the early hours on Friday, November 20, 2020.
She is also accused of assault, ill treatment and/or neglect of the baby in the week before she died.
Opening proceedings, Timothy Cray KC, prosecuting, alleged that Langley murdered her daughter in a deliberate attack by squeezing her to death.
He said Langley called 999 just before 4am and said her daughter was not breathing. Paramedics were at the family home in Belgrave Road, Marton, within minutes and took over chest compressions.
Edith was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital but could not be revived and was declared dead at 4.43am.
In March 2022 – 16 months after Edith’s death – Langley was arrested at her home on suspicion of her daughter’s murder.
Mr Cray said: “At the time, and in the days that followed, the defendant was saying that Edith’s death was sudden and, to her, unexplained and inexplicable.
“The furthest she went in terms of her own responsibility was to put blame on herself for drinking on Thursday night and into the Friday morning.
“The post-mortem evidence suggests that, sadly, those accounts from the defendant were untrue because Edith had died from terrible injuries.
“Virtually all her ribs had been broken, with fractures to the back, front and the side of Edith’s ribcage.
“The opinion of the pathologists who carried out the examinations of Edith’s body was that 30 of these fractures had been caused in the hours immediately before death by severe compressive – or squeezing – force being applied to her ribs.”
Mr Cray said the experts also concluded that the remaining three fractures – cracked ribs – were older and caused two to four days before death.
He said: “It was not a one-off.”
The prosecutor added: “We say that the defendant carried out a serious assault on Edith in the days before and, later, she carried out a second and fatal attack of the same kind.
“She died and we say that’s murder.”
No concerns for Edith’s welfare had been raised by professionals, while Langley’s friends and neighbours were under the impression she was a good mother, the court was told.
Mr Cray said it is clear from text messages sent by the single mother in the hours leading up to Edith’s death that she “really wanted adult company”.
He added: “She was asking people to come to the house and she really wanted to drink.”
She said in a message to one friend that Edith was “driving me nuts today” and “won’t be put down”, and told another: “It’s just so hard. I’m tired but can’t rest.”
Another friend responded to her request for alcohol and dropped off a bottle of wine, the court heard.
Later analysis of the defendant’s blood showed she was effectively twice the drink-drive limit at about the time she called the emergency services, Mr Cray said.
After Edith’s death, Langley said nothing to doctors, police or friends that would explain the injuries that were later found, the prosecutor said.
But she went on to tell the child’s father she had been on the couch and fallen asleep with Edith on her chest, jurors heard.
After being arrested on suspicion of murder in March 2022, Langley told detectives she may have rolled on to her daughter in her sleep.
Medical experts have rejected any accidental explanation for Edith’s injuries, Mr Cray told the jury.
Langley denies murder and has also pleaded not guilty to child cruelty between November 14 and November 20 2020.
The trial is estimated to last between two and three weeks.