Mother of baby killed by partner is cleared of cruelty

(8101802)

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First published in Local

A YOUNG mother has been cleared of cruelty to her baby, who died at the hands of her violent partner.

But a jury has not yet reached a decision on a charge that 19-year-old Jessica Wiggins, of Heathfield Road, Redditch, caused or allowed the death of baby Isabella Vallance, who died in hospital aged 12 weeks.

The child’s father, Tyler Vallance, aged 21, of Engadine Road, The Oakalls, Bromsgrove, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is in custody awaiting sentence.

Wiggins has told the jury in her case at Worcester Crown Court that Vallance was a volatile man with mood swings, who had punched, kicked and slapped her during their relationship.

But she claimed she had not seen him ill-treat Isabella, who died on December 12, 2012 after suffering severe rib, leg and head injuries.

The jury, which retired at 11.20am on Wednesday, returned to the courtroom at 3.10pm on Thursday, to deliver its unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict to the allegation of cruelty by ill treatment or neglect of Isabella between October 5 and December 6, 2012, which Wiggins had denied.

But the foreman said the jury had not so far reached a verdict on the charge that she failed to protect her baby from Vallance, which she also denies.

The judge, Mrs Justice Cox, told members of the jury she would now accept a majority verdict of 10-2 or 11-1 on the remaining allegation, if a unanimous decision could not be reached.

Christopher Hotten QC, prosecuting, has told the jury that Wiggins was on trial because she knew Vallance was a ‘violent, volatile, short tempered man’ who posed a risk.

“It is the first duty of a mother to protect her child,” said Mr Hotten.

The court has heard that Vallance had ADHD and was under the care of a psychiatrist.

The jury has also been told that, since the death of Isabella, who lived with her parents in a temporary home in Stanley Close, Redditch, Wiggins and Vallance have had another daughter, who has been taken into care.

Cross-examined by Mr Hotten, Wiggins told the jury that Vallance was very jealous and controlled her as if she was his possession.

But she added that he was rarely alone with Isabella and she had never seen the baby forcibly squeezed.

The jury resumes its deliberations today.

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