Mother Jailed for Crushing Newborn’s Ribcage, Causing Death

April 4, 2019 Updated: April 4, 2019

A British mother who killed her 2-month-old baby while trying to silence her cries was jailed on April 4 for more than 13 years.

The woman was found to have attempted to subdue her baby by crushing her ribcage, leading to the tot’s excruciating death.

Abigail Palmer, from the town of Solihull, England, was found guilty this week of manslaughter after squeezing the chest of daughter Teri-Rae with such force that she fractured the newborn’s ribs, according to the West Midlands Police.

Palmer, 33, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday. Judge Justice Lambert told the court how on Jan. 2, 2017, Palmer caused ten rib fractures in her daughter’s chest, leading to oxygen starvation.

“What you did was appalling. Only you know why you assaulted Teri-Rae in this way but it does not require much imagination that you did so because she was crying and you were short-fused through a lack of sleep owing to your heavy-duty socializing over previous days,” Lambert said, according to The Daily Mail.

“You tried to silence her by grabbing her so strongly that she was unable to get any air into her lungs.”

Baby ‘Didn’t Die Suddenly’

Birmingham Live reported that Palmer told investigators that she had taken a nap with her daughter lying on her chest and woke up to find her “blue and lifeless.”

Prosecutors, however, said Palmer caused the injuries by forceful compression of her daughter’s chest.

“We don’t believe her… and neither did the jury,” said West Midlands Police Sergeant Mick Byron from the Child Abuse Investigation Team. “We suspect she came home drunk, was awoken by her baby in the night and inflicted these terrible images in response to Teri-Rae’s crying.”

The court heard how Palmer did not call an ambulance for 15 minutes after the inflicting the grave injuries to her daughter, the Daily Mail reported, but instead contacted her cocaine dealer as her baby lay dying.

Police said that, initially, investigators did not believe the newborn’s death to be suspicious.

“However, an investigation was launched days later when a skeletal survey revealed three healing rib fractures—and a later forensic post mortem confirmed the baby didn’t die suddenly but over a period of up to three hours when her brain was starved of oxygen.”

Detectives later used “futuristic 3D-scan technology to identify microscopic fractures to the tragic tot’s ribcage,” according to the West Midlands Police.

The 3D images, performed by micro-CT scanning experts at the University of Warwick, were thousands of times more enhanced than traditional hospital CT scans. The scans showed that the little girl’s ribcage had numerous tiny hairline fractures.

“Medical experts concluded the injuries would have shallowed Teri-Rae’s breathing due to the pain and slowly she would have suffocated.”

Professor Mark Williams from the University of Warwick said, “The ability to produce highly detailed 3D images of these shocking injuries helped establish the truth and show what had happened. It’s an honor for us to provide critical evidence to this case, and to be able to help the police investigate such an appalling tragedy.”

Sergeant Mick Byron said: “We were able to show that Teri-Rae suffered 10 rib fractures over a four to 12 hour period between 3 a.m. and 11 a.m. on 2 January.

“Palmer had been at a pub for six hours on New Year’s Day but claimed to have drunk mainly squash, not alcohol, as that would have breached a condition of the Child Protection Plan she was bound by.

“Palmer admitted the baby was never out of her sight and never mishandled by anyone else; she offered no plausible accidental explanation for her daughter’s injuries. There was no indication Teri-Rai suffered a bone fragility condition and she was not independently mobile enough to have injured herself.

“Significant force is required to cause rib fractures in a baby… the presence of rib fractures in a baby of this age is indicative of abusive, deliberately inflicted, injury. This was a truly heart-breaking case to investigate, that a little baby’s life was taken by the one person who should have been protecting her.”

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