Rag doll

Father, 25, left newborn daughter ‘like a rag doll’ after shaking her to death, court hears

A father left his newborn baby girl ‘like a rag doll’ with ‘catastrophic’ injuries to her brain and spine after shaking her to death, a court has heard.

Darin Harvey, 25, is charged with the murder of two-week-old Felicity-May Harvey at their home in Heywood, Greater Manchester in January last year.

Felicity May suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries after being ‘deliberately shaken’ by her father, a jury heard.

Prosecutors allege Harvey murdered his daughter, who was just 20 days old, moments after her partner and Felicity-May’s mother, Heather Connolly, left the family home.

Tim Storrie KC, prosecuting, told Bolton Crown Court Felicity-May was born with a cleft palate which affected her ability to eat and meant she needed an ‘extra degree of care’.

Felicity-May Harvey, born with a cleft palate, died in January 2021 aged just two weeks. His father was tried charged with his murder

Jurors heard that shortly after 2 p.m. on January 8, 2021, Ms Connolly left their home.

Before leaving, she checked on her daughter who was sleeping in a moses basket and had “no concerns for her welfare”, the court heard.

She also sent a reminder to Harvey that Felicity-May needed some nurturing, it seems.

Mr Storrie said: ‘Heather Connolly has not left the house for over a quarter of an hour. After that quarter of an hour, her whole world had changed.

Prosecutors allege that while Ms Connolly was away Harvey ‘physically abused’ their daughter by shaking her to death.

As Ms Connolly was driving home, she received a phone call from Harvey expressing concern for Felicity-May.

She rushed upstairs and found Felicity-May “boxed, blue and having trouble breathing,” prosecutors said.

Ms Connolly dialed 999 and the baby was taken to hospital.

Mr Storrie told the jury: ‘She was, you might think, baffled by what had happened. For a time, she feared that the cleft palate had allowed her daughter to suck in some of her food, causing her to stop breathing.

But tests carried out by doctors revealed “a catastrophic constellation of injuries” to the baby’s brain, as well as severe spinal cord damage, Mr Storrie said.

There was evidence of “very heavy bleeding in the eyes” typical of “serious and abusive head trauma, such as occurs with shaking or shaking with impact,” the court heard.

Police outside the house in Heywood, Greater Manchester in January last year following the death of Felicity-May

Police outside the house in Heywood, Greater Manchester in January last year following the death of Felicity-May

Prosecutors said the injuries were caused by Felicity-May being “deliberately shaken or physically abused in a way that no one would do unless they wanted to cause her obvious harm.”

Mr Storrie continued: ‘The consequences of handling it in this way would have been immediately apparent to anyone present.

“It would have been quickly apparent that Felicity had become seriously ill. She would have become like a rag doll.

Harvey, of Wardle, Rochdale, was arrested that evening. He was arrested again after Felicity-May died three days later.

When questioned by police, Harvey denied responsibility for his daughter’s injuries, saying when he fed her she was “well, responsive and happy”.

He claimed Felicity ‘sticked her tongue out’ before she ‘went to sleep’ and he then put her on the bed, Mr Storrie said.

Outlining the prosecution’s case, the KC said: ‘We say the trauma to Felicity expressed an intent to cause her very serious harm, because there can be no other explanation for a man shaking a young child.

“For this reason, we submit to you that Darin Harvey is guilty of murder.”

In a police interview shown to jurors, Ms Connolly told an officer that shortly before returning home, Harvey phoned her and said: ‘There’s something wrong with baby .”

Flowers have been laid at the scene in Heywood where newborn baby Felicity-May Harvey died in January last year

Flowers have been laid at the scene in Heywood where newborn baby Felicity-May Harvey died in January last year

She said she ran upstairs and found Harvey cradling their daughter, saying, “What’s wrong, baby?” What’s wrong?’

At first, Ms. Connolly thought Felicity-May might have choked.

“I didn’t know if he started feeding her and she choked,” she said. “I laid her on the bed.

‘Darin kept asking me, “what’s wrong with her?” I didn’t know, I had just come back.

She added: “I ran like a headless chicken. Seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours.

Ms Connolly told the officer she could hear her daughter ‘gasping’.

“It was awful,” she added. ‘She was struggling. She wasn’t even crying. She was just making these awful noises.

As she dialed 999, Ms Connolly said Harvey tried to perform CPR on Felicity-May.

When she asked him what had happened to their daughter, she told Officer Harvey he “didn’t know”.

“He said he took her out of the moses basket to feed her,” Ms Connolly said. “She looked at him, gave a little smile and his eyes rolled up and he said something about his weight having doubled.

“He said he knew something was wrong.”

Harvey denies killing his daughter.

The trial continues.