Blackpool mother accused of squeezing seven-week-old baby girl to death

Seven-week-old Edith Langley suffered multiple rib fractures before her death, Preston Crown Court heard. Credit: PA Images

A mother accused of causing more than 30 rib fractures on her baby girl after "squeezing her to death" was "twice over the drink-drive limit" when she called for help, a jury has been told.

Edith Langley, who was seven-weeks old, sustained 33 fractures, with virtually all of her ribs broken before she died, Preston Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors say the child’s mother, Laura Langley, from Blackpool, is responsible for her baby's death and the harm caused to Edith was “not a one-off”.

Langley, 37, has denied murder and has also pleaded not guilty to child cruelty between November 14 and 20 November 2020.

Timothy Cray KC, prosecuting, said Langley called for an ambulance just before 4am on Friday 20 November 2020 to say her daughter was not breathing.

Edith was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital but could not be revived and was declared dead at 4:43am.

Mr Cray said: “At the time, and in the days that followed, the defendant was saying that Edith’s death was sudden and, to her, unexplained and inexplicable.

“The furthest she went in terms of her own responsibility was to put blame on herself for drinking on Thursday night and into the Friday morning.

“The post-mortem evidence suggests that, sadly, those accounts from the defendant were untrue because Edith had died from terrible injuries.

“Virtually all her ribs had been broken, with fractures to the back, front and the side of Edith’s ribcage.

“The opinion of the pathologists who carried out the examinations of Edith’s body was that 30 of these fractures had been caused in the hours immediately before death by severe compressive – or squeezing – force being applied to her ribs.”

The remaining three fractures were older and caused two to four days before Edith's death, Mr Cray said. He added: “It was not a one-off.”

The prosecutor added: “We say that the defendant carried out a serious assault on Edith in the days before and, later, she carried out a second and fatal attack of the same kind.

“She died and we say that’s murder.”

No concerns for Edith’s welfare had been raised by professionals, while Langley’s friends and neighbours were under the impression she was a good mother, the court was told.

Mr Cray said Langley was texting people "to come to the house and she really wanted to drink". One of her friends responded and dropped off a bottle of wine, the court heard.

She said in a message to one friend that Edith was “driving me nuts today” and told another: “It’s just so hard. I’m tired but can’t rest.”

Further analysis found Langley was effectively twice the drink-drive limit at about the time she called the emergency services, Mr Cray said.

After Edith’s death, Langley said nothing to doctors, police or friends that would explain the injuries that were later found, the prosecutor said.

But she went on to tell the child’s father she had been on the couch and fallen asleep with Edith on her chest, jurors heard.

When Langley was arrested on suspicion of murder in March 2022, she told detectives she may have rolled on to her daughter in her sleep.

Medical experts have rejected these claims, Mr Cray told the jury.

The trial is estimated to last between two and three weeks.