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Baby who died in nanny's care had broken ribs, inquest told

An eight-month-old baby who died from unknown causes while in the care of her nanny in country NSW was later found to have broken ribs and serious internal injuries, a court has heard.

An autopsy also found that the baby almost certainly died a significant time before the nanny made a triple-O call.

Emily Pagett died on October 25, 2004, on the rural property "Winrae" near the town of Enngonia in western NSW, while her parents and grandparents were away at a wedding.

In his opening address to the NSW Coroner's Court, counsel assisting the coroner Mark Cahill said a police officer arrived at the property in response to the triple-O call to find Emily lying on her back with rigid limbs and her lips "almost black".

The baby's nanny, Shiralee Robinson, had been conducting CPR but when ambulance officers arrived, she appeared to be in a state of shock.

An autopsy later that day was unable to determine the cause of death, but the pathologist discovered a number of significant internal injuries inflicted around the time of death.

"There were recent fractures of ribs on the right hand side, a large internal haemorrhage ... a small laceration of the liver and the presence of bloody fluid in the pericardial sac," Mr Cahill said.

He said that while it was possible for infants to suffer internal injuries during CPR if it was not carried out properly, the inquest would hear evidence that the type of injuries found on Emily were not consistent with this.

The inquest also heard that Emily died "a significant period of time before the triple-O call was placed by Ms Robinson".

The first officer on the scene found the baby had stiff joints, and rigid fingers – an indication she had been dead for some time.

The inquest also heard that Ms Robinson had been a "loving nanny" towards Emily and her two little brothers, and that there had been no history of abuse, either with the Pagett family, or in her previous 10 years as a nanny.

The hearing was told Ms Robinson was the only adult to have contact with Emily in the 72 hours before she died.

In an interview with police, Emily's mother, Melissa Pagett, said Ms Robinson had been "a good nanny who loved the kids".

Ms Robinson had been "best with Emily" and "appeared to be a bit fond of her".

The inquest, before Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund, continues.

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