Evie Grace’s death remains a mystery

Martin Thomas has been cleared of causing serious injuries to his baby daughter
Martin Thomas has been cleared of causing serious injuries to his baby daughter

A CORONER has described injuries sustained by a Wigan baby before her death as “shocking”.

Evie Grace Thomas suffered three unexplained head fractures and 13 broken ribs during her short life,

And Bolton Coroners Court was told yesterday some of the injuries were sustained only a matter of days before she was found unresponsive in her cot.

As Wigan coroner Jennifer Leeming recorded an open verdict there was an angry exchange between both sides of the estranged parents families, which required an intervention by court staff.

Evie Grace’s dad, Martin Thomas, was cleared of eight counts of assault against the four-month-old, of Beech Hill Avenue, Beech Hill, earlier in the year.

The hearing heard that Mr Thomas had returned from his night-shift at Heinz in the early morning and had taken Evie downstairs, leaving his then-partner Hayley Fisher asleep upstairs.

Mr Thomas claimed that the most serious head fracture was caused after his toddler daughter fell from a chair and landed on Evie, accidentally striking her on the head with a plastic phone she was holding.

However, giving evidence, forensic pathologist, Dr Phil Lumb, branded Mr Thomas’ explanation that the injuries were caused by her being hit with the toy as “completely implausible”.

Dr Lumb also discounted claims that the broken ribs could have been caused by over enthusiastic hugging from Evie’s sister, who was said to have doted on her.

But he said the cause of Evie’s death remained unknown, although there were a number of possible causes, such as pneumonia or a seizure, caused by the head fractures and the broken ribs.

He conceded she could also have died from cot death syndrome, which would have been natural causes.

Det Sgt Peter Jackson of GMP’s Major Incident Team had been the senior investigating officer in the investigation, which found that there was sufficient evidence against Mr Thomas to recommend to the Crown Prosecution Service that it charge him with six counts of assault against Evie.

He pointed out that when Mr Thomas called 999 after finding his daughter face down in her cot, he had told emergency services: “She is just face down; it’s like she’s been smothered.”

Police had reconstructed, for video evidence, the alleged incident with the toy phone but remained guided by the advice from the expert witnesses that this was discounted by them.

He also pointed out that during his trial, evidence emerged that Mr Thomas had mistreated another of his children from a previous relationship.

Both of Evie’s parents took to the witness box but declined to give any further evidence, although both sides asked questions of the medics during the hearing.

Coroner Mrs Leeming told the family - they sat at different sides of the room in which the hearing was taking place - “I can’t imagine the distress that the manner of the injuries to Evie have caused.”