Gosport baby death trial: Health visitor tells court she raised concerns of physical abuse of newborn five days before he was taken to hospital 

Roxanne Davis
Roxanne Davis

A HEALTH visitor concerned over a bruise behind a baby’s ear flagged an alert with social services days before he suffered a fatal head injury, a court has heard.

Tot Stanley Davis was just 24 days old when he died on March 28, 2017, from ‘catastrophic’ wounds, including 41 fractures across his body and a fracture to the skull which caused a deadly bleed on the brain.

Stanley Davis. Picture: PA/Hampshire police

Stanley Davis. Picture: PA/Hampshire police

His mother Roxanne Davis, 30, of Lee Road, Gosport, and her ex-partner Samuel Davies, 24, of Mayfield Road, Southampton, are on trial accused of causing or allowing the death of the infant. They both deny the charge.

A jury at Winchester Crown Court heard how health officials had warned social workers of possible early signs of abuse after spotting a small bruise behind the right ear of Stanley on March 16 – five days before he was rushed to hospital with horrific injuries.

The court heard how the alarm was raised by health visitor Laura Bishop during a routine check of Stanley at the former family home at Garland Court, in Forton Road, Gosport. 

She raised the ‘bruising protocol’ after spotting the discolouration, which neither Davis nor Davies had an explanation for, she said.

It saw a plan of action immediately formed by social services to check up on the baby’s welfare.

Mrs Bishop told the court the protocol had come about from ‘serious case reviews’, adding: ‘The most common cause of bruising in babies is usually down to physical abuse.'

The situation came to the attention of Dr Atul Tiwari, a consultant paediatrician with Solent NHS Trust, who assists in child protection cases.

Dr Tiwari said he examined the injury later that evening but at the time was not convinced it was a bruise, instead believing it was more likely to be a birthmark.

He said: ‘I noted a 4cm-long and 2cm-wide, C-shaped purple marking behind baby Stanley’s right ear 

‘The purple marking had distinct edges and there was no evidence of any trauma or injury overlaying the purple marking.

‘Based on the history and the examination, I was of the opinion that this is possibly a birthmark. However, as I was not absolutely sure about the nature of the mark I formed a safety plan.

‘At that point in time we were not getting the history which would have pointed to a bruise. There was no instrumentation. The delivery was absolutely normal.

‘I know birthmarks can appear in the first few days or few weeks of life. That was my first suspicion.’

The safety plan would involve a follow-up check about a week later.

However, by this time, Stanley was in hospital with severe brain damage.

Earlier, the court heard how mental health issues over Davis’ had been flagged, along with those of her partner.

During cross-examination, Sally Howes QC, defending Davies, asked Dr Tiwari what Stanley’s condition was like at the time of his examination.

She said: ‘You have already told us that he “handled well” and that that was a positive finding.

'You then comment that both the parents were observed to handle him appropriately whilst they took his clothes off or when he was fed.

'The parents appeared attuned to Stanley's needs and responded well to him.'

‘This is what I noticed of them, yes,' he told the court, adding the youngster appeared ‘in good nick’ and ‘handled well’.

‘He looked healthy,’ he told jurors.

(proceeding)