London – A woman searched “shaken baby syndrome” on her phone days before murdering her baby, a court heard on Wednesday.
Clare Sanders, 43, and her partner Tomas Vaitkevicius, 45, allegedly shook Eva on three separate occasions during her four weeks of life.
Six days before she died, Sanders’ phone was used to look up “Shaken baby syndrome NHS”, “Shaking babies” and “baby is shaking”, the Old Bailey heard.
Tom Little QC, prosecuting, read out a text message saying she and Vaitkevicius had a “massive barnie” the day before the web searches.
He said: “This was just under a week before Eva was found unconscious and the emergency services were called.”
Eva was pronounced dead a few hours after being rushed to hospital in September 2017. A post-mortem examination gave the cause as ‘traumatic brain and spinal cord injury’.
The jury was told that the couple, from Mitcham in south London, had been drinking on the night Eva was attacked.
Mr Little said Sanders, a £90 000-a-year finance consultant, accused a police officer of trying to prosecute her when he approached her at the hospital where Eva was taken.
The QC added: ‘”Nobody had suggested prosecuting her – and why would she say that she was to be prosecuted unless she knew far more than she was saying. The prosecution say Eva was violently shaken on at least three separate occasions, when only a month old, in the early weeks of her young life.
“These violent events were not close in time to each other, one after the other after the other, we say they were days apart. There are no viable alternative perpetrators for the injuries sustained by Eva. We say there are no viable alternative explanations.
“We say this was a brutal series of assaults in which she was shaken.”
Mr Little said Eva must have been assaulted repeatedly in August 2017, and then again on the night before her death. Sanders told police her web searches were prompted by a concern that Eva, her first child, was inadvertently shaking. She said: “I have no recollection of manually entering a search to enquire “should you shake a baby to feed”.
“I discussed my concerns about Eva shaking with my neighbour. I have never done anything which could have harmed my beautiful baby girl. I have never shaken or caused any injury to Eva and I have no explanation as to how she could have come to any harm… I am absolutely bereft at the loss of Eva and to be accused of causing her death is horrifying.”
The two-year relationship between Sanders and Vaitkevicius, who is from Lithuania, was said to be tense. Messages between the two showed she was “struggling to cope with the relationship and a number of other issues at the time”, according to Mr Little.
A message sent to Vaitkevicius in July 2017 read: “You have walked out again without saying anything. You say you will be there for the birth but once again your phone is off. You are hurting me so much. I don’t want to live any more.”
The pair both deny murder and an alternative count of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable child.
The trial continues.