Paris Vince-Stephens: Baby died 'after parent attack'
- 22 October 2013
- From the section Bristol
A 16-week-old girl died from head injuries inflicted by one of her parents, a court has heard.
William Stephens, of Southmead, Bristol and Danah Vince, of Portishead, deny charges of manslaughter and causing or allowing the death of a child.
Paris Vince-Stephens was either shaken to death or suffered a blow to the head at the hands of one of her parents, prosecutors claim.
Paris died three days after she was admitted to hospital in January.
Bristol Crown Court was told that either Mr Stephens, 25, or his 19-year-old girlfriend Miss Vince inflicted the fatal blow on their baby daughter at her home in Brentry, Bristol.
Christopher Quinlan QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "The prosecution case is that one of these defendants, the mother or the father, caused those injuries by shaking her or by bringing her head into contact with a soft surface or a combination of both.
"We say that act was unlawful and caused her death and are reflective in the charges of manslaughter."
Mr Quinlan told the court that the defendant who did not inflict the fatal injuries was culpable in so far as they caused or allowed the death of the child.
"The defendant who was not responsible for her death should have appreciated there was a serious risk of harm from the other defendant and failed to take reasonable steps to protect Paris from harm," Mr Quinlan said.
"That defendant failed Paris and that failure was culpable and we say was criminal."
Mr Quinlan said both defendants denied responsibility for killing Paris when interviewed by the police. "Mr Stephens said he was not responsible and said he 'didn't touch her at all' that day," the prosecutor said.
"When Danah Vince was questioned she denied responsibility. She said she had left Paris alone for a short period with Paris's father William Stephens.
"She was fine, said Miss Vince, but much different when she returned. She, Danah Vince, didn't shake Paris - it must have been William, she said."
Mr Quinlan said the young parents had a "volatile" relationship and there was evidence of them arguing and fighting. They also used drugs, including cannabis, jurors were told.
He said social services stepped in and the couple signed agreements of no domestic violence.
But, even though Mr Stephens was supposed to stay away from Miss Vince, the court heard there was evidence he was still living with her at her flat.
Mr Quinlan said a student social worker then took on the case, before Stephens appeared before Bristol magistrates following a disturbance at the flat and was handed a restraining order.
Before Mr Quinlan began the prosecution's case, trial judge Mr Justice Teare told the jury that Mr Stephens would be assisted in the dock by an intermediary because he suffered from "severe communication difficulties".
The case continues.