14-month-old girl died after she 'suffered catalogue of injuries at the hands of her father'

Hollie Ashurst suffered multiple injuries to the head and neck area, bleeding on the brain and in the eyes, a broken ankle and two possible bite marks to her hand and thigh (PA)

A 14-month-old girl died after she suffered a catalogue of injuries at the hands of her father, a court was told.

Among the injuries allegedly caused to Hollie Ashurst were multiple areas of bruising and abrasions to the head and neck area, bleeding on the brain and in the eyes, a broken ankle and two possible bite marks to her hand and thigh.

Daniel Ashurst, 33, told treating medics his daughter had tumbled down two stairs at the family home in Shevington, Wigan, last February.

But in his defence statement seven months later, he provided “a rather different picture”, argue the prosecution.

Ashurst claimed a series of unfortunate accidents had befallen his daughter, Manchester Crown Court was told.

He stated she had first fallen off the bed and seemed fine, but then he found her shaking from “head to toe” on the stairs after he left her to go outside to the bin.

Next he slipped and dropped her as he picked her up to hurry downstairs, before she fell again when in her car seat as he braked hard in his vehicle while he rushed her to get treatment, he explained.

Opening the case on Monday, Guy Gozem QC, prosecuting, told jurors: “No bones about it, we suggest that account is a recent invention by this defendant.

“It has been invented because his original account gets nowhere near to explaining Hollie’s injuries.

“Our case is that his new account is one which is designed to cater for the variety of injuries found upon Hollie.

Ashurst claimed a series of unfortunate accidents had befallen his daughter, Manchester Crown Court was told (PA)

“This catalogue of injuries indicates, we say, that they were not the result of an accident – or even a series of accidents – but rather that they were deliberately inflicted on Hollie, including by shaking her.”

Ashurst was looking after Hollie at home in Fleming Court while his partner and the girl’s mother, Leanne Thompson, was at work at a local beauty salon on 28 February.

Later that afternoon, Ashurst rushed into Standish Medical Practice holding Hollie’s limp body in his arms.

He told various medics she cried after she fell down two steps at home, and that he stopped at the surgery en route to hospital when he realised she had stopped breathing.

Hollie Ashurst died a day after being transferred to hospital

The youngster was transferred to hospital, but died the following afternoon on 1 March, the court heard.

A Home Office pathologist concluded she died from head injuries, and also noted older bleeding to the brain suggested other episodes of non-accidental injuries in the last few weeks of her life.

Mr Gozem said phone messages between the defendant and Ms Thompson showed the pair had been arguing about money in the days before.

He added that mental health records obtained by police revealed Ashurst, who was on medication for anxiety and depression, said he was concerned about his ability to cope with looking after Hollie following Ms Thompson’s recent return to work.

The court also heard Ashurst was arrested after his daughter was taken to hospital and tested positive for cocaine use. Ashurst denies murder.

The trial, expected to last up to four weeks, continues.