A two-month-old baby alleged to have been murdered by his parents had what appeared to be a bite mark on his arm, a court has heard. Luke Morgan, 26, and Emma Cole, 22, are accused of smothering Tyler Morgan and causing him three broken ribs after being heard arguing at their flat in April 2014. Neighbours said ‘Luke Morgan was angry because he wanted to have sex with Miss Cole and had been prevented by Tyler being up.’
Jurors at Stafford Crown Court heard claims that there was a ‘significant’ delay in contacting the emergency services after Tyler’s collapse in the early hours.
Morgan and Cole, formerly of Sunnymead Road, Burntwood, Staffordshire, both deny murder, manslaughter, causing or allowing Tyler’s death, and child cruelty. Opening the Crown’s case against the couple, prosecutor Andrew Smith QC showed jurors a picture of an injury to Tyler’s right forearm which pathologists said resembled a human bite mark. Mr Smith told a jury of seven men and five women: ‘At 2.42am on the 29th of April 2014, Emma Cole dialled 999 to send an ambulance to her home address. ‘Tyler Morgan, the nine-week-old son of the defendants, had collapsed before the call was made.
‘The prosecution’s case is that Tyler’s collapse was caused by his being intentionally smothered or his chest being compressed. ‘That intentional smothering and/or chest compression occurred when the defendants were alone with Tyler in their home. ‘Subsequent investigations discovered that Tyler had sustained serious injuries before his death, including fractured ribs, that could only have been caused while he was in the care of his parents.’ Claiming that one neighbour had heard a high-pitched scream, while another described hearing a loud bang, Mr Smith said: ‘The prosecution say that Luke Morgan and Emma Cole were plainly arguing in the early hours. ‘Their argument took place at a time when they had both been drinking alcohol.’
After paramedics arrived at the couple’s home, the court heard Morgan said he believed Tyler’s collapse was a ‘cot death’ and claimed he had been unable to wake him.
Tyler, who was in cardiac arrest, was taken to Walsall Manor Hospital, arriving at 3.40am, and was pronounced dead at 4.03am. Jurors were told several red marks were found on Tyler’s face, including the bridge of his nose, which may have related to resuscitation attempts. During a police interview, Morgan told officers that Tyler had been a ‘golden’ baby and he had no idea how he had come to die. Meanwhile, Cole told police she phoned the emergency services after being woken from a deep sleep by Morgan – and found Tyler not moving in his cot.
During his opening speech to the jury, Mr Smith said Morgan and Cole were arrested on suspicion of murder on May 4, 2014, and were then covertly recorded as they spoke to each other. On the recordings, Morgan is alleged to have said that he used to bite Tyler ‘to make him smile’ during play. Mr Smith added that neither defendant offered any explanation for the fractured ribs suffered by Tyler. The trial, which is expected to last for up to six weeks, continues.