Foster mother killed baby in fit of rage, court hears

Chiara Giordano
Sarah Higgins, 42, pictured leaving Huddersfield Magistrates' Court in April 2019, has been charged with manslaughter over the death of 10-month-old Skylar Giller in August 2017: Alex Cousins/SWNS/file photo

A paramedic foster mother allegedly killed the baby she was adopting in a fit of rage, before pretending the child had fallen from her knee.

Sarah Higgins is accused of inflicting devastating brain injuries on 10-month-old Skyla Giller while caring for the baby at her home in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

The 42-year-old dialled 999 and told the operator Skyla was unconscious and unresponsive after slipping from her arms and falling onto a carpeted floor.

However the paramedic is accused of causing the fatal injuries after losing her temper and subjecting the baby to a “non-accidental violent action”.

The child’s injuries were the type consistent of a child falling from a first-floor window, jurors at Leeds Crown Court were told on Tuesday at the start of a five-week manslaughter trial.

The court heard Ms Higgins and her husband Martin Dobson, also a paramedic, were in the process of adopting Skyla when she died on 26 August 2017.

Jurors heard a recording of the 999 call Ms Higgins made, in which she told the operator she had been struggling to feed Skyla and dropped the child onto a carpeted floor from a low height as she tried to turn her around.

During the 999 call she could be heard on another call to her husband, telling him: “Come home now. On blue lights.”

She added: “She’s not conscious but she’s moving her limbs. It’s involuntary movements. She not controlled in what she’s doing.”

The defendant claimed Skyla had landed on her bottom or lower legs and did not strike her head during the fall.

Sarah Higgins, 42, pictured centre leaving Huddersfield Magistrates' Court in April 2019, has been charged with manslaughter over the death of 10-month-old Skylar Giller in August 2017. (Alex Cousins/SWNS/file photo)

But a scan revealed bleeding and swelling on Skyla’s brain after she was rushed to hospital.

Skyla died at Leeds General Infirmary two days later after suffering devastating brain injuries.

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC said there were also bruises on the baby’s arm which could not be explained by the defendant.

He added that doctors found evidence of bleeding to her eyes, which indicated a severe trauma.

Mr Wright QC claimed the baby’s injuries clearly indicated Ms Higgins killed Skyla in a violent assault.

He told the jury: “We will invite you to come to the conclusion that while in her care, Sarah Higgins assaulted that baby by subjecting her to a violent action in which her head was subjected to repeated forces and acceleration and deceleration.”

Mr Wright told the jury it was the crown’s case Higgins had experienced a “loss of temper”.

He added: “Regrettably, that unlawful action caused Skyla’s death and so we say that defendant is guilty of manslaughter.”

Mr Wright told the court Ms Higgins was on maternity leave and had full care of Skyla at the time of her death.

The defendant and her husband were in the process of adopting Skyla after she moved into the family home in May 2017.

Ms Higgins denies manslaughter.

The trial continues.

Additional reporting by SWNS.

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