Mum and boyfriend accused of murdering baby in ‘ferocious assault’

Nicola Priest, 23, who along with Callum Redfern, 22, has denied the murder of her three-year-old daughter, said her partner would smack her child “too many times” – but it “did not cross” her mind he would injure her.

A mum and her boyfriend are accused of murdering the woman’s three-year-old daughter, who was found to have suffered 19 rib fractures in the the hours before her death.

Priest, 23, of Poplar Avenue, Edgbaston, and Callum Redfern , 22, of Temple Street, Lower Gornal, Dudley, have denied murder, manslaughter and allowing the death of a child between August 7 and 10 last year.

They have also pleaded not guilty to child cruelty.

Priest made a 999 call on August 9 last year to summon help but when paramedics arrived Kaylee had already been dead for several hours, said Andrew Smith QC prosecuting.

He said, by the middle of June, the couple were in a close relationship and had gone out on a number of trips together both with and without Kaylee.

Redfern was also a regular visitor to Priest’s flat and Birmingham Crown Court heard messages between them showed an “uncaring attitude” towards the girl.

Mr Smith said Kaylee had suffered injuries in the months and weeks leading up to August 8, when Redfern came to Kingshurst House with a friend.

It was then, he alleged, that Kaylee was subjected to a “ferocious assault” leaving her with severe injuries to her chest, including a punctured lung and internal rupturing of the intestines.

She also suffered 19 rib fractures in the the hours before her death, it was claimed.

Priest said she loved and trusted her partner Callum Redfern and it did not “cross her mind” that he would injure Kaylee-Jayde Priest.

Mr Smith said: “The catalyst may have been Kaylee interrupting them spending time together.

“They bear joint responsibility for Kaylee’s murder.”

Giving evidence, Priest said that, following the break-up of a relationship with a former partner, she had met up with Redfern, whom she had known for eight years.

“When I first contacted him it was more for seeing him again,” she said.

“The first time I saw him face-to-face was May 18. I had not seen him for a long time.

“It was in my flat at Kingshurst House.

“It went further straight away, we had sex. I wanted it with him. I just felt alone. I felt I needed that person to help me and want to be with me and not someone who was going to cheat on me and hurt me.”

“I just felt I loved him and would do anything for him.”

She said Redfern was “amazing” with Kaylee and went on: “I felt it was nice to get the help and I trusted him.”

Asked about how she disciplined her daughter, Priest said she would initially tap her on the hand, put her on the “naughty step” and would occasionally smack her.

Priest said Redfern would also discipline Kaylee from around June.

“It would vary,” she said. “I would hear it or I would see it.

“He told me he had smacked her. It was mainly bedtimes.

“I said: ‘She is three and she does not understand’, basically. I didn’t say anything to stop it.

“I was scared and did not know how to ask him.

“He just told me he had smacked her. He would raise his hand back so it was quite a hard smack.

“I said: ‘She was three’ but it never changed him from doing what he did.”

She said Redfern would smack her daughter on the bottom and that it was “too many times”.

But Priest said it didn’t “cross her mind” that Redfern might have been causing injuries to Kaylee.