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Gemma O’Donnell denies manslaughter charge and delaying 999 call
9:47am Wednesday 20th March 2013 in News
A MOTHER accused of shaking her baby to death said he meant “the world” to her and motherhood was her vocation.
Gemma O’Donnell, 27, told the jury at Leeds Crown Court she did everything her son Leighton needed and she denied being a bad mother.
She claimed she listened carefully to everything the doctors and nurses told her about the care he needed while he spent weeks in York special care baby unit immediately after his birth.
And she said the pair got into a “regular routine” once he came home to Bright Street, off Leeman Road, York, in October 2010.
“I wanted to be a mother,” she said.
“Everyone has different desires and mine was always to be a mother. People choose a career. I wanted a child. When I was told I couldn’t have one, that sort of tore my world to pieces.
“When I did have Leighton, that was my world. Leighton was my world. He was everything I wanted.”
O’Donnell denies manslaughter and denied allegations she had been drinking the night before Leighton collapsed and was rushed to hospital. She also denied delaying calling for help.
Describing the time she was waiting for an ambulance after making a 999 call, she said: “It was very panicky, seeing my baby in that state.
“I had never seen him in that state. It was obviously upsetting at the time and frustrating. I wanted the ambulance to be there, someone to be there. I felt helpless. I couldn’t do anything.”
According to defence evidence before the jury, Leighton ate well at 8pm on November 28, 2010, but at 11pm the same night he only had a small amount of the milk he was given.
A monitor of his breathing went off twice to indicate it had stopped at 2am and 3am, but on each occasion when his mother checked him he was breathing normally, the court was told.
The following morning, after he was brought downstairs, his condition gradually deteriorated until he became “floppy” and she called first a nurse, then York Hospital and then an ambulance for help.
Two doctors called by the defence said they could not be sure that the baby’s injuries were caused by him being shaken. They cited several medical factors, one of which was that the baby’s condition apparently deteriorated over some time.
The prosecution disputes the defence claim that the baby’s condition worsened in the way described by his mother.
The trial continues.