The mother of a toddler who was allegedly murdered has told a jury she never mistreated her child or knowingly allowed anyone else to either.
Two-year-old Maya Chappell was found in a critical condition at a home in Shotton Colliery on September 28 last year and died in hospital two days later. The youngster was found with extensive head, neck and torso bruising which a pathologist stated had been deliberately inflicted and resulted in severe brain damage.
Maya’s mother, Dana Carr, 24, and Carr’s then-partner, Michael Daymond, 27, are both standing trial at Teesside Crown Court facing charges connected with the death – which they deny. Daymond is accused of murder and child cruelty. Carr is charged with child cruelty, as well as allowing a child to die in her care.
On Friday, Carr gave evidence at the trial, and said at the time of Maya’s death, she believed Daymond – who is from the Sunderland area – to be a “loving” partner. Answering questions regarding the beginning of their relationship put to her by her barrister, Toby Hedworth KC, Carr said: “[Daymond] was lovely, caring, somebody who I thought had a lot of time for me, including Maya, he was an all round nice person.” She said that Daymond “treated Maya as his own”.
During her evidence, Carr told the jury that she never mistreated Maya or allowed anybody else to mistreat her, either. Prosecutor, Benjamin Nolan KC asked her about text messages she had sent to her stepfather, saying she had found out who had “hit Maya”. In a police interview she indicated that was a reference to Maya hitting herself. Carr told the jury the text was in relation to nipping, and when she would “nip herself”. Carr added it was a “little mark on her leg…there was a phone call after [the text] I said that I’d seen Maya nipping herself.”
The jury was also shown a mobile phone video during the trial which showed Maya with an unlit cigarette in her mouth. Carr said the video was made to show her stepdad that Maya had “kept picking tabs up”.
Mr Nolan asked Carr about a “blunt force injury” on Maya’s body, and whether or not she had seen it. Carr replied she hadn’t but if she had, it would have “set alarm bells ringing”.
Mr Nolan asked: “That’s not true is it?”
“It is true”, Carr replied. “If I’d seen it, I would have taken the appropriate steps to address it.”
On the morning of September 28, Carr went to work, leaving Maya in Daymond’s care. But later that afternoon, Daymond made a 999 call to the ambulance service reporting he had found Maya “gasping for breath” and that she had stopped breathing. He then gave the child CPR before the emergency services attended.
Maya was then taken to the Great North Children’s Hospital, but tragically died on September 30 without regaining consciousness. At the time of the 999 call Carr received a message from Daymond telling her to “get home”. Some time after that, Carr sent Daymond a message saying “please don’t leave me”.
Carr told the jury she didn’t mean “don’t leave me” in terms of her relationship with Daymond, she said it more in terms of Daymond not leaving the property as she wanted to know what had happened to Maya. She tearfully added: “If I knew Michael Daymond was going to murder my child, I wouldn’t have left, I wouldn’t have gone to work, I wouldn’t have allowed him to murder my child.”
The trial continues
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