A father accused of murdering his 13-year-old daughter hurled her across a room in a ‘fit of temper’ when she was a baby because she would not stop crying, the Old Bailey heard today.
Dean Smith, 45, from Watford, Hertfordshire, threw Maisie Newell into her cot when she was just four-weeks-old in August 2000, leaving her with a fractured skull and brain injuries.
Maisie was subsequently left with life-changing injuries and was cared for by adoptive parents until she died at home with them on June, 28, 2014, just before her 14th birthday.
In February this year, Smith admitted manslaughter but denied murdering Maisie at the address he shared with her mother Amanda Lee.
Opening the case today, prosecutor Sally O’Neill told jurors: ‘On 26 August 2000 when Maisie was almost exactly four weeks old, Amanda Lee went to visit a friend, leaving the two children in the care of this defendant.
Dean Smith (pictured outside the Old Bailey), 45, from Watford, Hertfordshire, allegedly threw Maisie Newell into her cot when she was just four-weeks-old in August 2000
‘His words to her as she left were ”Don’t leave me with a f***ing screaming baby for hours.”
‘She left at about 3pm. By the time she returned to the house with her friend Claire at about 4.30pm, the defendant had seriously assaulted his baby daughter.
‘He did so, as he was later to admit, in a fit of temper because he became frustrated that she wouldn’t stop crying and he threw her a distance of four to five feet across the room into the cot knocking her head on the side of the cot.
‘He then left her there whilst he smoked a cigarette and helped himself to a beer and said nothing about what had happened when Amanda returned home, simply telling her that the baby was asleep.
‘When Amanda realised there was something wrong, he said he hadn’t done anything wrong until he eventually started crying and said he had put the baby roughly into the cot and she had hit her head on the Moses basket.’
Ms Lee Lee took her friend into Maisie’s bedroom and they saw the baby lying asleep in what looked like an ‘awkward position’.
Ms O’Neill continued: ‘When they got in, the defendant was on the sofa with a beer in his hand and when Ms Lee asked him where Maisie was, he told her she was asleep. He seemed quite normal, not distressed or upset.
‘Ms Lee took Claire into the bedroom to see Maisie and they noticed that Maisie was lying at the very top of the Moses basket which was inside the cot.
‘She was apparently asleep but was lying in what looked like an awkward position.
‘The defendant called from the other room that Maisie had been crying since Ms Lee went out and he had left her to cry and she must have pushed herself to the top of the basket.
Maisie Newell was left with life-changing injuries and was cared for by adoptive parents until she died at home with them on June, 28, 2014
During a police interview, Smith admitted assaulting Maisie and said he was ‘disgusted with himself’. Pictured: Artist’s impression of Dean Smith appearing at the Old Bailey today
‘He said to just leave her. Ms Lee and Claire both then went back into the living room where there was general chat between them all.
‘Ms Lee didn’t think there was anything wrong and phoned her mother to make arrangements to go out that evening.
‘The defendant still seemed unconcerned and got up to play on his play station which is in the bedroom where Maisie was and after about ten minutes, Amanda followed him into the room.
‘Claire sensed there was something wrong although Ms Lee didn’t say anything to her so she decided to go home.’
However Maisie’s mother soon noticed that the baby looked pale and found that she was unable to wake her and a 999 call was finally made at 6.51pm.
When emergency services were called, Ms O’Neill said the defendant and Ms Lee lied to paramedics, claiming Maisie’s 18-month-old brother had dragged her into the bathroom and dropped her on the floor.
The court heard that Maisie was born healthy, but after suffering brain damage from the assault she subsequently suffered from fitting, episodes requiring constant care, and was fed throughout her life through a feeding tube.
‘She was never able to sit, stand, crawl or walk independently,’ Ms O’Neill said.
At police interview, Smith admitted assaulting Maisie and said he was ‘disgusted with himself’.
In August 2001, Smith pleaded guilty to causing really serious harm and was sentenced three years in prison.
On May 31 2014, Maisie, who was adopted in 2002, was taken to hospital because of a breathing problem and bleeding.
Her condition deteriorated and she died on June 28 2014 at home at the age of 13, with her adoptive family by her side.
Pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift noted at the post-mortem examination that ‘it is possible to directly correlate the cause of her death to the original incident of non-accidental injury in August 2000’.
Giving evidence in court, Dr Swift said had Maisie not sustained the significant brain injuries as a baby ‘she would not have been expected to die when she did’.
Smith, of Watford, Hertfordshire, denies murder but admits the charge of manslaughter.
The trial continues.