A father who discovered his girlfriend was cheating on him battered their three-year-old daughter to death, a court heard today.
Richard Green, 22, subjected Lia Green to 'significant physical abuse' after learning girlfriend Natalie Critchley was having an affair with a parent at a children's nursery where she worked, it was said.
Lia was rushed to hospital in August last year after she was found unresponsive and not breathing.
She died shortly after being admitted to the Royal Preston Hospital.
Doctors discovered Lia had a significant number of bruises to her neck, chest, abdomen, both arms, both legs, buttocks and back caused by deliberate blows. Part of her bowel had been completely severed.
Green, who is on trial at Preston Crown Court, denies murder and allowing the death of a child.
His girlfriend is also accused of allowing the death of a child, which she denies.
A post mortem found Lia died from a blunt force abdominal trauma injury.
Lia was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital on August 30 with a swollen abdomen and was slightly stiff with dark, dry vomit around her nose and mouth.
Doctors attempted to resuscitate her but she was already dead.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, told the court: 'Richard Green and Natalie Critchley only contacted emergency services when they realised Lia's condition had deteriorated to such an extent that it could no longer be concealed.
'It's a sad feature of this case that had they acted more swiftly then Lia's life could have been saved but they chose to try to conceal what happened.'
At the hospital Critchley's behaviour was described by nurses as 'strange' with her 'pre-occupied' with text messaging while her daughter lay dead in the treatment room.
The court was told that in the run up to Lia's death, Green was 'very upset and angry' and wrote messages on his Facebook account about Critchley's 'affair'.
Mr Wright told the court: 'We might say that Green found caring for the child was a considerable strain.
'It would seem she was having an affair with a man who had a child at nursery and in a period leading up to death of Lia we say there was considerable friction between the parents. The relationship continued but was far from harmonious.
'There was simmering resentment. Resentment [that] was hardly helped with the addition of looking after Lia. When Lia's body was examined her injuries were not down to some freak or terrible accident but blunt force.
'We say it was blindingly obvious that something extremely serious and dire was likely to happen in that household and something extremely dire did happen to Lia.'
The court was told Lia was left in the care of Green after he pulled her out of nursery.
In November 2011, Critchley, 20, started a full-time job as a nursery assistant at Small Wonders 2, while Green was unemployed.
The court was told that a month before Lia's death, he rang her nursery and said his daughter would not be attending again.
Mr Wright said: 'He informed the nursery that he had discovered that Natalie was seeing the parent of a child from the nursery and that Natalie would not be returning to work.
'He was clearly very upset by this discovery, angry with Natalie and made remarks on his Facebook account that were able to be read by others.'
Critchley received reassurance from her employer about her job but Lia was not allowed back to nursery due to unpaid fees.
The youngster was then left in the care of Green while her mother was at work and on occasions was cared for by her grandmother or a nursery colleague.
Two weeks before her death, a social worker visited the family home following a referral but had no concerns for Lia's safety.
On August 15, five days after the visit, nursery manager Vicky Waterhouse received a text from Critchley, which appeared to have been drafted by Green, implying all was not well between the couple.
Mr Wright said: 'On a visit she saw some damage to the wall of the premises Green admitted causing.
'Asked if okay he said "no I'm not with her".'
The day before Lia was found dead, Green went to the nursery and was said to be 'mad and swearing'.
He told the staff they had to send Ms Critchley home because Lia was being sick.
Mr Wright said: 'The assistant said he looked like a parent who couldn't cope, they had never seen him like that shouting, swearing and raising his voice.'
The court heard when Lia's body was examined doctors discovered trauma to her abdomen that had been delivered with such force that causes extensive and fatal internal injuries.
Lia was found to be extensively bruised and many were less than 48 hours old and some were older.
The court was told that the day before her death records showed the home computer had searched the NHS Direct website with the term: 'Three-year-old hurting head and being sick' and a local surgery called but it was closed.
Green was arrested the next day but told officers his daughter had fallen while on swings at the park.Both he and Critchley deny any responsibility for their daughter's death.
Mr Wright said: 'This was a young child who had been physically abused. This was physical abuse where she ought to have been protected by her parents rather than exposed.
'There was a significant risk of harm being caused to Lia. It was a risk of serious physical harm from which she ought to have been protected.
'Each of her parents failed to protect her from and led eventually to her death at the hands of we say the male defendant Richard Green.
'We say Green did not intentionally kill but at the time we say he must have delivered a forceful blow to the abdomen of the child. He must have intended to cause her really serious harm.'
Lia was described as a 'normal, happy toddler' who just the day before her death was seen 'skipping' along the road with her father looking 'perfectly happy'.
On July 30, one month before Lia's death, police made a referral to social services about Green smoking cannabis with children around.
The home was visited and while conditions were 'less than perfect' there was food in the house and Lia had clean clothes on and there was nothing that caused concern to the social services department about the safety of the child, the court heard.
Green was arrested the day after Lia's but told officers his daughter had fallen while on swings at the park.
Both he and Critchley deny any responsibility for their daughter's death.
Mr Wright told the jury that, irrespective of whose 'hand or fist or boot' delivered the fatal injury, it was 'blindingly obvious' something 'dire' was likely to happen in that household and should not have been allowed to happen.
'We say it would be obvious to any parent that their child was extremely unwell and in need of medical assistance.
'The fact that no medical assistance was obtained until it was too late speaks volumes in this case as to the responsibility of both parents in the events that led to Lia's death.'
Russell Bennet, the first paramedic on the scene at the house, said he and a colleague got Lia into the ambulance to carry out chest compressions but the ECG monitor gave a 'flat-line' response showing the heart had stopped.
Mr Bennet told the jury he asked Critchley how long she had been in this 'state'.
'She told us the child had been unwell recently, had been to see a GP and the child had been up and about and playing 10 to 15 minutes prior to the 999 call.
'My impression was the child had been deceased for longer than the 15 minutes we were told.'
Green denies murder and allowing the death of a child and Critchley denies allowing the death of a child.
The trial, scheduled to last up to six weeks, was adjourned until tomorrow morning.