October 24 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, June 12, 2014
A man accused of murdering a toddler has told a court he kicked her in the stomach out of frustration and denied that he had hurt her on previous occasions.
Two-year-old Amina Agboola was found injured “like a rag doll” at her home in Yaxley, on November 21 last year after being left alone with her mother’s boyfriend, Dean Harris.
A trial at Cambridge Crown Court has heard social workers repeatedly warned her mother, Sarah Racqueman, that he posed a danger to children and should not be allowed to care for Amina alone.
Harris, 19, of Scott Drive, Yaxley – and a former Sawtry school pupil – has admitted manslaughter but denies murder.
Racqueman, 29, also of Scott Drive, denies causing or allowing her death.
Harris told the court he had become “a bit frustrated” on the morning of Amina’s death after repeatedly changing and cleaning her each time she soiled herself.
His kick ruptured the girl’s liver, splitting it in half, and she died in hospital later that day.
Harris said he had no intention of killing her.
Asked by prosecutor Zoe Johnson if he knew what he was doing, he said: “To a certain degree yes. I did not intend to kick her. It just happened in a split second because I was frustrated. As soon as I kicked her anger turned to worry.”
He said that the blow sent Amina flying and she landed across the room.
He admitted he had initially lied and said Amina was injured after falling from a toilet.
“All I’ve done since then is try to block it out of my mind,” he added.
Under cross-examination, Harris said he had bit Amina on the cheek leaving a bruise the day before her death.
He added: “I was feeding her and she bit my finger so I did it playfully.
“I was not aware that I had bruised her.”
The prosecutor asked whether he had fractured her arm a month earlier and then discouraged Racqueman from getting an X-ray, he said: “No, definitely not.”
In her evidence, Racqueman said her relationship with Harris had developed “very quickly” after meeting earlier that year.
She had allowed Harris to care for Amina because being a single parent could be “stressful”.
Asked how he was with the children, she added: “He was playful, calm, just acting normal really.
“He was never violent to me or Amina.”
She said she had been told by a social worker that Harris could be violent.
“When I asked Dean about it he said some of it wasn’t true and some of it he wasn’t convicted or it didn’t go any further,” Racqueman added.
“He was never aggressive. He was calm.”
She said she had not allowed Harris to care for Amina since the warning but was “not in my right mind” on the day she died.
Racqueman said: “The dog was barking, Amina was screaming and saying she didn’t want to go out. I was just in a daze.”
Her barrister, Mark Shelley, asked if she was to blame for her daughter’s death.
She said: “No, I was torn over what to do.”
The trial continues.