Teenager accused of murdering baby with cotton wool spoke of ‘hate’ for new-born cry, court hears

Worcester Crown Court  ((Alamy/PA))
Worcester Crown Court ((Alamy/PA))

A teenage mother accused of murdering her baby son by assaulting him and then stuffing five cotton wool balls down his throat said “I hate the new-born cry”, jurors have heard.

Paris Mayo, who is now 19 but was 15 at the time of the incident, has gone on trial accused of killing Stanley Mayo before putting him in a bin bag at her parents’ home in Springfield Avenue, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, on March 23 2019.

She is alleged to have concealed both her pregnancy and her birth, claiming she was unaware she was carrying, despite asking her mother, just weeks before delivery, “what a half-Chinese, half-English baby would look like”, Jonas Hankin KC, prosecuting, told Worcester Crown Court on Friday.

After delivering her baby, weighing 7lb 12oz (3.56kg), alone, unaided, at her parents’ Herefordshire home, some time after 9.30pm, the prosecution alleged Mayo assaulted Stanley.

The Crown have claimed Stanley suffered a fractured skull, possibly caused by Mayo’s foot on his head, before she then stuffed cotton wool into his mouth – two pieces of which were found deep in the throat.

Medical evidence from a consultant paediatrician, read to court in summary, concluded Stanley, who was full-term and lived at least two hours after birth, “may have suffered a significant crush injury to his head from opposite sides, for example, beneath her foot”, said Mr Hankin.

“There is definite evidence of at least two impacts to the head or a crush injury to the side of his head, against or between two hard, unyielding surfaces.”

Mayo, whose parents were in but upstairs and unaware of delivery at the time of the birth, was arrested and twice interviewed about her baby’s death, firstly in 2019, and then in 2021.

Mr Hankin said: “She was told the bone pathologist had found cotton wool had been forced deeply into the baby’s throat and she was asked if she had done this.”

Mayo claimed she had noticed “fluid” or “blood” coming from the child’s mouth and was “trying to help” and soak it up, by placing cotton wool in Stanley’s mouth.

Mr Hankin said she told officers: “‘I don’t remember putting five pieces in there and I didn’t shove my fingers down his throat and put them there’.”

“‘I was panicking and I just didn’t know what else to do, and that was the first thing that came into my head, but I didn’t shove them down there, I might have been panicking, but I’m not stupid … that’s not what I would have wanted’.”

Medical experts, following a post-mortem examination, also concluded the child had “classic signs of a live birth”, with evidence of air in its lungs, despite Mayo claiming to police that once born, her son “didn’t move, he didn’t cry, he didn’t breathe”.

Jurors also heard Stanley had air in his gut, likely “from crying”, Mr Hankin said – despite Mayo claiming the child had not made a sound.

“Following the defendant’s arrest, a police officer overheard Mayo say, having heard a new-born baby crying at (Hereford County) Hospital – ‘I hate the new-born cry’,” said the Crown’s KC.

“The defendant later told police she couldn’t remember saying that and didn’t remember hearing a baby cry.”

She also claimed the child had been “cold” from the moment of delivery but jurors heard she back-tracked in a police interview when told of medical evidence even stillborn children were “warm to the touch”, Mr Hankin said.

Medical investigations also showed the child had suffered two large, complex fractures to either side of the skull, as a result of inflicted and “non-accidental” injury, caused by “blunt-force trauma”.

In police interview, Mayo told officers the child had “all of a sudden just popped out” while she was leaning against a window-sill, alone, in a downstairs living room.

Mayo suggested in interview that any head injury to her son may have been down to the baby landing on the room’s tiled floor.

“It is very unlikely a single impact could result in the findings seen (in pathology),” said Mr Hankin.

Investigations at the scene revealed the room’s tiled flooring to be covered in large part by a carpet and medical experts said the fractures would not have been caused by the method Mayo explained.

Mr Hankin said: “It was made clear to the defendant what the experts were saying: that her account was implausible, that the baby’s injuries were more likely to have been caused by blunt force trauma, and that the baby lived for approximately two hours after sustaining his head injuries.

“She replied: ‘I didn’t do anything to hurt him like that’.”

Jurors also heard Mayo denied putting her son in a black bin bag, in a bid to entirely conceal the child’s birth from her parents, wider family and the authorities.

She told police: “I didn’t want anyone to throw him away, I just wanted someone else to deal with it.”

Mr Hankin said a consultant neonatologist summary, read to court, said that with “timely medical intervention… he (the baby) would have been expected to survive”.

At the start of the trial, on Thursday, Mr Hankin said: “The prosecution says that the defendant killed the baby to prevent the discovery of her pregnancy and his birth.

“She didn’t want the baby.

“Despite having parents and siblings – whom she acknowledges are loving and supportive, and to whom she could have turned for help and advice – she murdered him.”

Mayo, of Ruardean, Gloucestershire, denies a charge of murder and the trial, expected to last six weeks, continues.