Mum found guilty of killing 10-week-old daughter after doctors warned against putting her in parents' care
Lauren Saint George has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of the infanticide of her 10-week-old daughter Lily-Mai
The baby died in a "violent and abusive" attack after George, 25, lost her temper, the court heard.
Just six days earlier, the girl was discharged into her parents’ care against the advice of healthcare professionals.
Lily-Mai Hurrell Saint George suffered 18 rib fractures, a leg fracture and a fatal head injury, hours after a home visit from a social worker.
Saint George lost her temper before violently shaking Lily-Mai. It was alleged she pulled and twisted her baby's leg on January 31, 2018.
She has been told that any prison sentence will be suspended, as she has already “suffered and continues to suffer”.
Lily-Mai died when surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital turned off her life support machine due to the extent of her brain damage on February 2, the same year.
Six days before the attack Haringey social services decided Lily-Mai should be transferred to the sole care of her parents, Saint George and Darren Hurrell, 25, despite professionals at Barnet Hospital warning she was at risk of neglect.
Prosecutor Sally O’Neill QC told the jury: “Lily-Mai’s death could almost definitely have been avoided if she had not been discharged into the care of two people who were woefully unsuited to caring for her.”
The Metropolitan Police initially said there was insufficient evidence to charge her parents but they both faced trial over Lily-Mai’s death after a coroner last year ruled she was unlawfully killed.
Mr Justice Spencer found Hurrell had no case to answer for charges of murder and manslaughter and threw out a charge of causing or allowing the death of a child against both parents.
A jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for more than 11 hours to find Saint George, of Enfield in north London, not guilty of murder and manslaughter.
She was found guilty of a charge of infanticide by a majority of 10 to one.
The charge is an alternative verdict to murder where a mother kills her child while her mind is disturbed by a failure to recover from the effects of childbirth.
Saint George and Hurrell, of Alvaston in Derby, were both cleared of a separate charge of child cruelty.
The court heard the pair had been housed at a flat in Duckett’s Green, north London, while their baby was still in Barnet Hospital, having been born prematurely at 31 weeks.
Theresa Ferguson, a social worker with Haringey Child and Family Services, was allocated the case after concerns were raised over the parents’ ability to care for Lily-Mai.
Barnet Hospital professionals, including neonatal sister Deborah Hodge, were not happy that she was to be transferred to the sole care of her parents as they believed she would be at risk of neglect.
Concerns were raised about Saint George’s mental health, her parenting abilities and her lack of commitment to her daughter, including not visiting her in hospital.
Despite their misgivings, a decision was made on January 22 to allow Lily-Mai to be sent home with close contact with social services.
Police were called to Hurrell and Saint George’s flat the day before Lily-Mai was discharged, over an alleged row between the pair, but no offence was disclosed.
On the same day Ms Ferguson made a referral for a “legal gateway meeting” – one of the options available to social services to take steps to intervene in the care of a baby – but went on annual leave the following day.
Ms O’Neill said: “To describe this timing as unfortunate is perhaps to understate the position.”
A duty social worker visited the family on January 26, while Ms Ferguson made a home visit when she returned to work on January 30, followed by health visitor Alberta Nyantaki on the same day.
Although Ms Nyantaki concluded that Lily-Mai’s needs were being satisfactorily met, she expressed “serious concerns” to Ms Ferguson, who told her the threshold for a child care protection plan had been met because of the couple’s volatility.
The legal process, in the form of a legal gateway meeting, began the following day and Ms Ferguson visited the flat at around 3pm to explain options for a residential placement for the family, or for Hurrell and the baby to go in without Saint George.