Mum tells court of seeing baby boy 'lifeless' on video call after 'panicked' dad called her at work
The mother of a newborn baby who died after being shaken by his father has told a court she saw her baby boy "lifeless" on a video call from work.
Abel-Jax Mailey was just seven weeks old when it is alleged his father, Oliver Mailey inflicted fatal injuries on him at their home in Burnley in November 2021.
After first claiming he found Abel-Jax limp and lifeless in his cot, Mailey, 26, admitted he had shaken the infant and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
His mum Mollie Gorton told the jury at Preston Crown Court that she and Mailey had known each other since high school, but had been in a relationship for around five months when she fell pregnant with Abel.
She told the court that Mailey was good with children and she was surprised by his reaction when she told him she was pregnant. "He basically said the baby couldn't be his because he had a low sperm count," she said. "It made me feel horrible."
Ms Gorton said she and Mailey argued at the time they learned of the pregnancy and Mailey moved out for a few weeks. However, he moved back in and they continued with the pregnancy.
Mailey was a regular cannabis user, which caused arguments as Ms Gorton was trying to cut down or stop, she told the court.
On October 7, 2021, Abel was born weighing 8lb 7oz. He stayed in hospital for a short period due to a kidney problem which was treated with antibiotics.
But, when they returned home, Ms Gorton said Mailey was "really good with him".
During a midwife visit, Ms Gorton said she and Mailey were offered advice about caring for an infant and told never to shake a baby. They were given contact numbers to call if they felt they were not coping. "I took her advice but I felt I was coping, so I just carried on," Ms Gorton told the court.
However, a few weeks before he died, Ms Gorton noticed Abel had a red patch on his ear. She asked a friend for advice and treated it with Sudocrem.
After that, she said Abel started "screaming" when he was picked up by Mailey. Ms Gorton said: "I used to say, 'I don't know why he's screaming like that'. He would say, 'it's because he doesn't like me'. But I'd say, 'don't be daft, he's a baby.'"
Ms Gorton told the court that Abel settled into a good routine, sleeping well and feeding regularly. On November 28, she planned to go to work, leaving Abel in his father's care.
The night before, Mailey looked after Abel, feeding him, winding him and changing his nappy, giving Ms Gorton no concerns, she said.
But, shortly after starting her shift , she received a flurry of missed calls from Mailey. Ms Gorton video called her partner to see what the problem was.
She said: "At first it was just Oli, a little bit panicked, saying there's something wrong with Abel. I said, 'show me Abel', and he turned the camera round and I saw Abel sat on Oli's knees, lifeless."
Ms Gorton said she immediately put her coat on and ran home through blizzard conditions to her baby boy. As she ran to the house, an ambulance and police car passed her on their way to her home.
When she arrived at the house, Mailey told her he had given Abel a bottle and he had just "gone limp", she said.
Ms Gorton accompanied Abel in the ambulance to Blackburn Royal Infirmary, while Mailey stayed home to make arrangements. "I rang him when I got to the hospital and told him he had to come now. I felt like he didn't really want to be there, like he wasn't really that bothered," she said.
At the hospital, Ms Gorton asked Mailey directly if he had shaken Abel. "I just had a feeling something wasn't right," she told the court.
"He started really shouting at me, saying 'I can't believe you have even asked me that.'"
Mailey was arrested on suspicion of GBH and taken to Greenbank Police Station for questioning. But Ms Gorton travelled to Manchester Children's Hospital with Abel, where a specialist team of paediatric doctors and nurses took over his care.
Ms Gorton was later arrested on suspicion of GBH, but both parents were released under investigation.
On Tuesday, November 30, Ms Gorton and Mailey were called to the hospital where life support was withdrawn and Abel died from his injuries.
As they waited in a family room, Ms Gorton asked Mailey directly if he had shaken Abel."We were there for a reason and I knew I hadn't done it," she told the court.
However, Mailey denied injuring Abel.
Following Abel's death, both parents were arrested on suspicion of murder, but two weeks later police told Ms Gorton she was no longer a suspect.
In December 2022, Mailey pleaded guilty to manslaughter, after admitting he did shake the little boy on November 28 and at least one other occasion. However he denies murder. The trial continues.
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