Mum and dad convicted after death of baby Ava Grace Nolan in Nelson

A mother and father have been convicted of causing or allowing injuries that led to the death of their baby daughter.
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Daniel Nolan, 30, and Sophie Nash, 31, both of Dover Street, Nelson, were today found guilty of causing/allowing the death of by Ava Grace Nolan, two counts of causing or allowing serious injury to her and child cruelty, after a trial at Preston Crown Court.

Police were called by the Ambulance Service on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017, after baby, Ava Grace Nolan, then just eight days old, was reported to be unresponsive at an address on Dover Street, Nelson.

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Ava was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital where she died a short time later at shortly after midnight on Thursday, August 17th.

Daniel Nolan and Sophie NashDaniel Nolan and Sophie Nash
Daniel Nolan and Sophie Nash

A subsequent post-mortem examination revealed Ava died of a catastrophic head injury, likely to have been caused by forceful shaking.

Further investigation found Ava had also suffered a separate brain injury, as well as a broken leg (femur), which she is believed to have suffered in the days leading up to her death.

Speaking after the verdict, the officer who lead the investigation, Det. Ch. Insp. Jill Johnston from Lancashire’s Force Major Investigation Team, said: “I would like to thank the jury for reaching their decision following what must have been a harrowing and difficult trial to sit through.

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“Throughout this long and complex investigation, neither parent has ever accepted responsibility for harming Ava, with both Nolan and Nash blaming each other.

"Whilst we have been unable to prove which one inflicted those horrendous injuries which caused their baby daughter’s death, what we have been able to prove is that they are both ultimately responsible.

"One of them shook baby Ava to death and the other allowed it to happen. Neither of them sought medical assistance for the initial injuries that Ava suffered in those very short days of her life and I suspect that they delayed seeking medical help on the evening of her death, until it was certainly too late.

“Nolan and Nash were blessed with a healthy baby girl, a newborn baby who they should have loved, cared for and protected from harm. To think that they are responsible for her death is inconceivable. The couple admitted having an extremely volatile and violent relationship, exposing baby Ava to considerable risk, which ultimately proved fatal.

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“Whilst we cannot change the events that took place we have continued to seek justice for baby Ava. The investigation identified that during Ava’s short life, there was considerable support offered to Nolan and Nash, by agencies included Social Services, midwives and health visitors.

"Nolan and Nash failed to accept their support, denying them access to their home in Nelson on a number of occasions and not returning their calls. The healthcare professionals persisted and a successful visit was conducted, but sadly they could not have ever predicted the levels of violence that this couple would go on to inflict on their baby.

“I would like to thank all the witnesses in this case, including the healthcare professionals, for what has been an extremely upsetting investigation and trial. We will continue to work hard with our partners as we seek to protect children like baby Ava from harm, to educate and support parents, but ultimately to protect children, to be their voice and to prevent tragic cases such as this.”

Nash and Nolan are to be sentenced tomorrow at Preston Crown Court.