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Mum phoned babysitter from hospital before Chloe died, court told

Date

Mark Russell

Having rushed her unconscious and seriously injured 10-month-old daughter Chloe to the Royal Children's Hospital, Phuritee Murphy phoned her babysitter to ask if she had done anything to her baby, a court has heard.

Mrs Murphy, 36, known as Kat, told the Supreme Court her daughter had stopped breathing and was being treated by medical staff when she rang the babysitter, mother of two Ketapat Jenkins, to try to find out what had happened.

Chloe was later found to have suffered a fractured skull and three fractures to her left arm. She died two days later.

Ms Jenkins, 30, has pleaded not guilty to one count of child homicide, which is effectively manslaughter.

Mrs Murphy said the babysitter told her that Chloe had stopped breathing about five minutes before Mrs Murphy and her husband, Tony, had arrived to pick up Chloe at 11pm on December 3, 2010, after having had a rare night out.

Questioned by defence barrister Peter Morrissey, SC, Mrs Murphy agreed she was very upset when she spoke to Ms Jenkins from the hospital.

Asked if she had used a strong tone of voice to Ms Jenkins, Mrs Murphy said: "Yes, because she did not answer my questions. She tried to avoid answering questions."

Mrs Murphy said Ms Jenkins wanted to know why she was asking her questions, before denying having given Chloe some honey or a toy which might have made her choke.

Mr Morrissey then asked if Mrs Murphy had said words to Ms Jenkins to the effect: "You've done something to my baby."

Mrs Murphy said she asked the babysitter, "What do you do to Chloe?"

A hospital nurse then took the phone from Mrs Murphy.

Mrs Murphy said she was sure Chloe had not had a fall or suffered an accident before she and her husband took the baby to Ms Jenkins' Kensington home around 7.30pm.

"Was there ever an occasion when she crawled away quickly out of your sight that day?" Mr Morrissey asked. Mrs Murphy replied: "No, not at all."

Crown prosecutor Bruce Walmsley, SC, has told the jury that Chloe had been "healthy, happy and normal" when her parents left her with Ms Jenkins.

But when the Murphys returned to pick Chloe up at 11pm, they claimed their baby was struggling to breathe and was unconscious in Ms Jenkins' arms.

Mr Walmsley said the baby's tragic death had been caused by an "unlawful and dangerous act" inflicted by Ms Jenkins, a babysitter entrusted to care for Chloe.

But Mr Morrissey said there was no credible evidence that Ms Jenkins had caused Chloe's injuries and she had most likely suffered a fall.

"Something has happened to Chloe but that's the issue for you to decide," Mr Morrissey said.

"Their (the prosecution) case depends upon scientific evidence. They are saying you know this was an attack and not a fall, not an accident, not something else.

"There are injuries but do they have to be caused by an attack or can they be caused by something else? Whether it's done at the time the mum was caring or at the time when Ketapat was caring?

"The concept I would like you to think about from the defence point of view is this idea of a fall and particularly of what you could call a complex fall. What do I mean by a complex fall? I mean a fall that's got more than one impact."

The trial, before Justice Lex Lasry, continues.

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