A stepmother filmed the death of her autistic three-year-old stepson after slapping him “multiple times” around the head and injuring his brain, a court has heard.
Leila Borrington is accused of inflicting a serious head injury on Harvey Borrington, who had been diagnosed as non-verbal autistic, while they were at home on 7 August, 2021.
Borrington, who is also accused of five other assaults – including one in which the youngster suffered a spiral arm fracture – went on trial for murder and manslaughter at Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old, who has denied any wrongdoing, has instead claimed Harvey "fell backwards" off a one-seater leather sofa at home, causing the fatal brain bleed.
Harvey, who spent most weekends with Borrington, died in hospital on 9 August after paramedics were called to the address and found him "deeply unconscious", "unresponsive" and with "abnormal body posture".
Jonas Hankin KC, opening the prosecution’s case, said Borrington had been at home caring alone for the youngster while Harvey’s father had been at work when it was likely the fatal injury was "inflicted" at the couple’s home in Main Road, Jacksdale, near Nottingham.
Jurors were shown footage, filmed by Borrington just moments after Harvey’s collapse, with the little boy seen lying on his right side, his arms out in front of him, and heard moaning.
On the video – shot on Borrington’s phone and sent to Harvey’s father who was out at that time – she can be heard saying "Harvey, Harv", while he continues to moan.
She can then be seen taking the boy’s left arm, lifting it up, and letting it drop loosely to the floor, before continuing to film as he moans, and lies, unmoving on a living-room rug.
Hankin said the defendant’s behaviour was "very unusual in the circumstances".
She later claimed the video was to show paramedics – though she did not, jurors heard.
Rather than call 999, she then texted Harvey’s father – out at the cinema – and said: "Why does this happen to me?"
It was only three minutes after filming Harvey she rang 999 and while waiting to be connected ran to a neighbour and brought them to help.
That neighbour later told of having heard a "thud" from the Borrington’s home before the stepmother started "hammering" on her door.
While waiting for the ambulance, Borrington sent Harvey’s father another text saying "Don’t leave the kids with me again."
When paramedics arrived, at 2.15pm, they saw Harvey was “floppy”, his eyes “fixed”, and he had vomited, so it was decided to take him to hospital.
He added that a series of medical experts instructed by the prosecution were “all in agreement; Harvey was unlawfully killed”.
"At least one – possibly more than one – severe impacts to the head capable of causing a skull fracture and an unsurvivable brain injury, rendered him immediately unconscious," said Hankin.
The jury were told Harvey’s natural mother and father, 31-year-old Jonathan Borrington, had split when he was 14 months old.
"In practice, because of Mr Borrington’s working hours, Harvey’s time was spent for most part in care of his stepmother, the defendant," said Hankin.
Jurors heard Harvey was diagnosed with autism just after his second birthday and while he only used a "handful" of words, he could communicate through taking a person’s hand, and also using "different types of scream".
They were also told about an entry made in Harvey’s education health and care plan, identifying his particular needs.
Hankin said: "This document lists among things Harvey doesn’t like, ‘Harvey doesn’t like going to his dad’s’."
Borrington denies murder, manslaughter, one count of wounding and four charges of assault.
The trial continues.