Baby death jury hears York mother's 999 call

Published in News by , Court reporter

THE 999 call made by a York mum accused of killing her baby has been played to the jury in her manslaughter trial.

Gemma O’Donnell, 27, told the call-handler that she had tried everything to get her son Leighton to respond, but that he was “gasping” for breath.

Her boyfriend Andrew White yesterday told a jury that 20-week-old Leighton was almost “lifeless” when he got up, on the morning of November 29, 2010, and O’Donnell was panicking.

As all three were rushed to York Hospital by ambulance, O'Donnell allegedly told a paramedic she feared she had done something wrong.

Leighton was transferred the same day to the regional paediatric intensive care unit in Leeds, where he died on December 4, 2010.

O'Donnell. 27, of Bright Street, off Leeman Road, denies manslaughter. The prosecution alleged Leighton died from brain injuries caused by her shaking him.

Mr White, 22, a farm worker, of Wheldrake, told Leeds Crown Court that when he got up on November 29 O’Donnell was “panicky, a bit upset” and told him Leighton did not appear his normal self. He picked him up.

“He was floppy, almost lifeless. I just thought he was dying and there was something terribly wrong with him,” said Mr White.

O’Donnell was ringing a hospital and he told her to ring an ambulance. He wasn’t sure whether it was a call she made at 7.15am to Leeds General Infirmary where Leighton was due to have an operation that day, or one she made at 8.40am to York Hospital.

The jury heard the 999 call O’Donnell made to the ambulance service at 8.43am in which she says Leighton was “absolutely fine” the previous day, but had not wanted to feed that morning, had not responded to her and was “gasping” for breath.

Leah Rainton, paramedic, told police Yorkshire Ambulance Service treated the call as top priority.

In a statement read to the jury, the paramedic said: “She (O’Donnell) was worried she had done something wrong. She kept saying is he going to be all right?’”

Consultant paediatrician Guy Millman told the jury York Hospital had been alerted before Leighton arrived and three consultants, plus “numerous” middle-level and junior- level medical staff attended to him in its accident and emergency department.

They made a “working diagnosis” that he was suffering from a respiratory infection and made him stable before sending him to the nearest children's intensive care unit, at Leeds General Infirmary.

Tests taken at the time later showed no signs of bacterial infection and were neutral on whether he had a viral infection.

Mr White was staying with O’Donnell when Leighton collapsed and was arrested in connection with Leighton’s death, but the prosecution say he is no longer a suspect.

The trial continues.

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