THE inquest into Shauna’s death heard how she received devastating injuries “equivalent to a fall from a second floor window”.
Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg said the cause of the 19-month-old’s death was traumatic head injuries, but this “hid a whole catalogue of abuse”.
Shauna’s mother Toni Marie Wright, 29, and her partner Damien John Price, 25, who shared Shauna’s care in the days before she died, were at the Chester inquest.
Shauna, born on September 13, 2002, was Toni’s second child with Clinton Paul Pritchard, 29, from Chester. The couple, who lived in a flat on Western Avenue, Blacon, already had a two-year-old son.
However, the couple split in June 2003 and the children remained with their mother. The couple agreed that Clinton should have them each Sunday.
In December 2003, Toni’s new partner, Damien John Price, 25, began to stay regularly at her Blacon flat before moving in fully, the inquest heard.
On the evening of April 20, 2004, Toni bought medication from a late chemist for Shauna who it was claimed had been ill during the day with vomiting, diarrhoea and listlessness, but when she got home Damien allegedly told her that Shauna was not breathing.
Shauna was initially treated at the Countess of Chester hospital before being taken to Alder Hey, where she later died.
Mr Rheinberg returned a verdict of unlawful killing after hearing evidence from 10 medical experts and paediatricians on Shauna’s extensive injuries which included three fractures to the spine, haemorrhaging to the eyes and brain, and bruising on her head, neck and abdomen.
The most recent spinal injuries were likely to have occurred within the last 24 to 48 hours of her life and she had older fractures in the process of healing.
Medical experts described the force used as equivalent to falling from a second floor window, and explained that these injuries could have been caused by the child being thrust down violently onto her bottom.
Haemorrhaging behind the eyes, retinal separation and bleeding to her brain were indicative of violent shaking or blows to the head.
During the course of the inquest Shauna’s mother, who is originally from Wrexham, refused to answer questions about whether she noticed her bruises or if she knew how she came by them. Her partner said he could not explain how the child came by the injuries.
Mr Rheinberg stated that in the context of “the very compelling evidence” from leading experts in the medical field, there could be no doubt that Shauna was unlawfully killed.
Detective Inspector Mark Tasker of the Cheshire Constabulary Strategic Public Protection Unit (SPPU) which has responsibility for child protection, is leading the enquiry into Shauna’s death.
Following the inquest verdict he said: “Any new information which comes to light will be thoroughly pursued.
“This file will remain open until the person, or persons, responsible for Shauna’s death are brought to justice.”
Anyone with any information can contact Ins Tasker on 0845 458 0000. Alternatively, information can be left anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
After Shauna’s death in 2004, a 24-year-old woman and a 21-year- old man were arrested on suspicion of her murder. They were later released without charge. Nobody was ever convicted.