EARBY: Babysitter says tot ‘absolutely fine’ hours before death

A babysitter who was looking after Earby baby Charlie Hunt just hours before he was allegedly murdered by his mother’s boyfriend told a jury he was “absolutely fine” when she left him.

Thursday, 25th November 2010, 11:16 am

Little Charlie Hunt was just 15 months old when he died from serious head injuries after Darren Newton (32), allegedly subjected him to a string of physical assaults for his “wicked pleasure” which he filmed on his mobile phone, the jury was told.

They had previously been shown shocking footage of the attacks on Charlie which had titles including “shivering no water”, “happy slap”, “2 minutes of pain” and “no toys in pen ah”.

Newton (32) has admitted 12 counts of child cruelty but denies murder and two further counts of child cruelty claiming he did not hit Charlie on the day he died in November last year.

The babysitter who had looked after Charlie before Newton came home from work to take charge of him on November 19th said: “He was absolutely fine, his normal self, happy and playful, absolutely fine.”

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reason, told the jury she often looked after Charlie on Thursday afternoons for his mother, Laura Chapman, before her boyfriend came home from work at a local factory.

She said she arrived at the house in Warwick Drive, Earby, around 12-30 p.m. and looked after him for about 45 minutes to an hour before Newton came home.

She and Charlie played with his toys, the girl told the jury at Manchester Crown Court, but when Newton arrived home and she went to leave she noticed “a change in Charlie”.

Under cross-examination by Mr Andrew Thomas QC (defending) the girl said she had never seen any signs of physical injury on Charlie but had told police that on one occasion he had seemed to “freeze”.

Asked about the incident, the girl told the jury, “I can’t remember really but I put him on my knee and he seemed a bit like he didn’t know what was going on.

“He was focusing on like one thing, that was like five or 10 minutes before Darren got home.”

Mr Thomas put it to her that Charlie had “no concept of time” and she had no idea at the time about anything untoward going on between Newton and the baby.

The girl replied, “No, but it’s like he got used to it so much like he started to realise things were going on.”

Asked how Charlie was when she had left, the girl said, “As I were going to leave he didn’t really want me to leave, he clinged on to me as if to say don’t go but I didn’t think anything of it for a while.”

She described Newton as “quiet and shy” and a man who “kept himself to himself”.

Mr Thomas asked if anything had happened while she was in charge of Charlie to which the girl replied: “Nope - I’m absolutely positive.”

The trial continues.