Crowborough baby murder trial: Mum became ‘frustrated and panicked’ when daughter cried

A Crowborough mum accused of killing her eight-week-old baby would become ‘frustrated and panicked’ when she cried, a court heard.

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 4:22 pm

Tiffany Tate, 21, and her partner, Michael Roe, 32, are on trial at Lewes Crown Court charged with the murder of their baby daughter Holly and causing or allowing her death.

Emergency services were sent to the couple’s home in Alderbrook Road, Crowborough, in the early hours of September 10, 2018, after Holly had stopped breathing.

Paramedics battled to save her before she was taken to Pembury Hospital in Tunbridge Wells where she was tragically pronounced dead. An inquest later found she died from a traumatic head injury.

Michael Roe and Tiffany Tate are on trial at Lewes Crown Court

Sally Howes QC, prosecuting, told the court on Wednesday (March 4), that baby Holly sustained 12 rib fractures on at least one, or probably more than one occasion. Port-mortem examinations showed numerous signs of injury to her eyes, brain, spinal cord and ribs, she said.

A 999 recording was played to the court of Roe, who was the last person to see Holly alive, frantically calling for an ambulance after Holly stopped breathing.

Ms Howes told the jury that evidence suggested that Roe was responsible for her death using the mechanism of shaking, however she said there was also evidence that pointed towards Tate being responsible.

Sushilla Cooke, a health worker, gave evidence at the trial on Wednesday (March 4). She was the first witness to take the stand.

Tiffany Tate

She told the court that she was allocated to Tate in March, 2018, when she was pregnant with Holly.

Mrs Cooke, who has worked for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust for more than 20 years, told the court Tate was having difficulty bonding with Holly and was not visiting the hospital every day to see her when she was born two months early on July 14, 2018.

Baby Holly was allowed to go home on August 9, 2018, the court heard, and Mrs Cooke told the court she visited the family the following day.

“They were handling the baby gently and lovingly,” Mrs Cooke told the court.

Michael Roe

She said Tate was finding it difficult bonding with baby Holly but ‘held her beautifully’.

Mrs Cooke visited the family on August 22, 2018, and told the court Tate was ‘stressed’.

She said Tate had said that baby Holly cried less when Roe looked after her. She also said Tate had told her she did not think Holly liked her.

During a visit on September 5, 2018, just five days before Holly’s tragic death, Mrs Cooke told the court that she was concerned about Holly’s weight. She said she discussed referring the couple to a children’s centre key worker for help.

Mrs Cooke said she asked Tate if she was feeling low or sad. She told the court: “She couldn’t seem to answer the questions – she said she might be depressed.

“I suggested she go to the GP but she said she would be embarrassed to go.

“When Holly cried Tiffany found it stressful – she became frustrated and panicked.”

September 7, 2018, was the last time Mrs Cooke saw baby Holly, the court heard – three days before Holly died.

Roe told her he had taken over night feeds because Tate had no patience and would shout at Holly and ‘felt like throwing her against a wall’, Mrs Cooke said.

She said she weighed Holly, who looked ‘long and thin’, but she saw nothing untoward. She added that Tate had told her she was taking antidepressants but they were not working.

Both Roe and Tate deny murder.

The trial continues.