Mum and dad left baby with six broken bones, court told
A MOTHER and father assaulted their baby, leaving him with six broken bones and 20 bruises, a court was told.
Christopher Sheldon, 32, and his 24-year-old wife Charlotte, are on trial for cruelty towards their son Ethan in the first four months of his life.
He suffered three broken ribs, a fractured collarbone, a fractured ankle and a broken big toe, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
Ethan also had 20 bruises over his body – which doctors concluded could not have been caused accidentally.
The injuries were uncovered after a routine visit by a health visitor to the couple's home when Ethan was just four months old, a jury was told.
Charlotte and Christopher Sheldon each deny two charges of child cruelty.
Jo Martin, opening the case for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "There is no suggestion that the broken bones and the bruises which Ethan undoubtedly suffered were caused by anything other than an assault or assaults upon him."
She added that doctors had dated the fractures and that Ethan had suffered three or four "incidences of violence" at the hands of one or both of the defendants.
"There is no doubt Ethan was hit three or four times by one or both of the defendants with some sort of object," she said.
Miss Martin said a doctor had concluded the pattern of bruising, including on his legs and arms, showed the baby had been struck.
She added: "It was either by a long and straight object or with a flat object with raised edges."
One expert suggested he could have been hit by a blunt cutlery piece.
Miss Martin said Ethan may have been struck with a flex because the bruises "followed the curvature of the limbs".
She added the ribs were mostly likely broken by squeezing using "considerable force well in excess of everyday handling."
The court heard the collarbone may have been fractured at the same time.
She added that the injuries would have left Ethan crying in pain for "two to three days".
Miss Martin said the ankle or tibia could have been broken by "strong holding" and twisting of the foot.
She added Ethan could have broken his toe when he was dropped or when a heavy object was dropped on his toe.
Miss Martin pointed out Ethan was not walking so could not have been injured by falling over.
She said health visitor Susan Clarke had called at the family home in Sefton Avenue, Lipson, on October 5 2010.
Miss Martin said there had been concerns he had not been putting on weight in the past but he had no underlying medical problems which would explain his injuries.
She added she made an emergency appointment at a surgery when she saw bruising.
The court heard that the doctor immediately referred Ethan to Derriford Hospital, where X-rays revealed the fractures.
Miss Martin said both defendants accepted the injuries were non-accidental and nobody else could have caused them.
But she added both denied causing the injuries or even knowing about them.
Christopher Sheldon, of Bridgetown, Totnes, and Charlotte Sheldon, of Sefton Avenue, each deny two alternative charges.
Each is accused of "ill-treating or assaulting" Ethan between his birth in May 2010 and October that year.
The jury was told the offence covered the assaults on the baby.
The pair are also charged with "neglect or exposing" him – failing to seek medical attention for his injuries over the same period.
The trial, expected to last about a week, continues.