Baby manslaughter trial adjourned at Leeds Crown Court after juror becomes ill

A manslaughter trial over the death of a ten-month-old baby has been adjourned at Leeds Crown Court due to a jury member becoming unwell.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 5:00 pm

Jurors were sent home early today (March 13), midway through the morning as defendant Sarah Higgins was giving evidence.

Higgins, a Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic, is accused of the manslaughter of her ten-month-old foster daughter Skyla Giller.

The prosecution claims Higgins must have caused the fatal injuries to Skyla after losing her temper and subjecting her to a "violent action".Skyla died at Leeds General Infirmary two days after Higgins dialled 999 and told an operator that she had dropped the baby onto the floor while feeding her.

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Sarah Higgins is on trial at Leeds Crown Court accused of the manslaughter of her ten-month-old foster daughter Skyla Giller.

Higgins and her husband Martin Dobson are both Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedics and were in the process of adopting Skyla at the time of her death on August 26, 2017.

At the start of the trial (on February 25) the jury was played a recording of the emergency call Higgins made from her then home on Oakfield Grove, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield.

The defendant told the operator that Skyla was unconscious and unresponsive after she had dropped her.

Higgins, now of Hillcrest Avenue, Townville, Castleford, pleads not guilty to manslaughter.

The defendant began giving evidence at the start of this morning's court proceedings.

The case was adjourned around 90 minutes later following a short break.

Mr Justice Lavender told jury he was adjourning the case until Monday morning at 10.30am.

He said: "I gather that one of you is not very well.

"Thank you for trying this morning."

The Judge added: "Have a good weekend and I look forward to seeing you on Monday morning when, fingers crossed, you will be fit and raring to go."

Before the adjournment, Higgins answered questions about her family background, education, work status and the adoption process.

The defendant said she was born in Doncaster and moved to live in Brotherton after her parents separated when she was a child.

Higgins said she studied at Pontefract New College after obtaining her GCSEs before training to become a veterinary nurse as she had a life-long love of animals.

She said she joined the ambulance service in 2005 and met her partner during their training period.

Higgins said she had discussed children with her partner early in their relationship.

They were both keen to be parents but were unable to conceive naturally.

Higgins said she underwent eight unsuccessful rounds of IVF treatment.

The couple also travelled to Spain on two occasions for embryo donation.

The court heard the couple spent over £50,000 of their own money during their attempts to conceive before applying to adopt a child through Wakefield Council.

Higgins told her barrister, Jamie Hill QC, how she and Mr Dobson went through a rigorous year-long vetting procedure before their application was successful.

She said: "They look into your family members and interview various members of your family.

"They look into your finances, your beliefs, how you handle situations - everything you could possibly imagine."

The jury heard that Higgins and Mr Dobson had separated since she was arrested.

Higgins became tearful in the witness box as she explained to the jury the reason for their separation.

The trial continues.