Mother in baby assault trial says she would never hurt him
A MOTHER accused of assaulting her baby has told a jury: "I would never dream of hurting him."
Charlotte Sheldon said her son Ethan was "perfect" and the "best thing that had ever happened to her" when she gave evidence in her trial at Plymouth Crown Court. She and her estranged husband, Christopher Sheldon, are each facing two child cruelty charges.
They are each accused of harming baby Ethan – and of neglect of the youngster. Both deny the charges. Speaking from the witness box yesterday, Charlotte Sheldon said the only person who could have injured Ethan was Christopher.
The 24-year-old also claimed Christopher had been violent towards her and had once punched her in the stomach when she was heavily pregnant.
The jury has been told Ethan, then aged four months, was found with six broken bones and covered in bruises after a health visitor called at the family home.
He suffered three broken ribs, a fractured collarbone, a fractured shin and a broken big toe.
Doctors who examined him also found 20 bruises all over his body – and concluded that the injuries could not have been caused accidentally, the trial was told.
The bones were also broken at different times, the jury heard.
But Charlotte Sheldon, a shop worker, told the jury that she first noticed some of the bruises only the day before the health visitor came in October 2010.
Both she and her 32-year-old husband deny two counts of child cruelty.
The Crown Prosecution Service allege that each of them caused the injuries and also that each is guilty of neglect in failing to seek medical attention.
Christopher Sheldon has already taken the stand to deny assault and blame his wife for causing the injuries. He also accused Charlotte of domestic violence against him.
Now his wife has put the blame on him for harming Ethan – and claimed he assaulted her.
The court heard they are going through divorce proceedings.
Charlotte Sheldon said: "I know I have not done anything and I know that if I have not done anything, then obviously it was Christopher."
She added: "I was so happy when I had Ethan, he was the best thing that ever happened to me. He was perfect. He was such a happy little boy. I would never dream of hurting him."
Charlotte Sheldon said that she took the baby every day to visit her mother, who was working as a nurse at Mount Gould Hospital.
The court heard the baby was passed around and cuddled by more than a dozen nurses in the office.
She denied her husband's claims that she had attacked him and said she was herself the victim of domestic violence.
She said he had punched her in the stomach during a row when she was heavily pregnant with Ethan.
Malcolm Clark, for Christopher Sheldon, said that she alone was responsible for harming their son.
He accused her of creating a "smokescreen" and of trying to cover up her guilt.
Annie Fox, a nurse at Mount Gould Hospital, said that Charlotte Sheldon brought her son in to see her mother at work.
She said that she brought Ethan into the office "five to ten" times and thought it "likely to be inaccurate" that they visited every day.
"She [Charlotte] was fine with him," Mrs Fox said. "She was just like a mum with a baby, normal really."
Christopher Sheldon, of Bridgetown, Totnes, and Charlotte Sheldon, of Sefton Avenue, Lipson, each deny "ill-treating or assaulting" Ethan between his birth in May 2010 and October that year. The pair also deny a charge of "neglect or exposing to neglect" the child between the same dates.
The trial continues, with barristers expected to make closing speeches and Judge Paul Darlow to start his summing up today.