Ethan Hopson trial: Baby's mother weeps in court as she relives horror
THE mother of six-month-old Ethan Hopson wept in court as she revealed her horror at suddenly being told her baby was not breathing properly.
The nightmare news came over the telephone from her then boyfriend, who is on trial accused of murdering the tot while he was babysitting for her.
She frantically returned home to find a paramedic desperately trying to save her baby’s life, the court heard.
Jason Redgrave, 25, of Grimsby, denies murdering Ethan between December 16 and 23. He also denies a charge of manslaughter.
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The prosecution at Hull Crown Court claims Redgrave repeatedly hit and shook Ethan, causing severe brain damage, while babysitting for his girlfriend, Karly Hopson, the baby’s mother, who was out celebrating a friend’s birthday on December 17.
He is said to have been feeling “acute annoyance, anger and irritation” towards Ethan because the baby probably started crying while he was sending sexually-charged text messages to another man.
Ethan died at Sheffield Children’s Hospital on December 22.
Miss Hopson, 23, of Cleethorpes, told the jury that Ethan was born on June 17 last year at Grimsby’s hospital and was a healthy baby. He started teething in December and would sometimes wake in the night and grizzle but, after being soothed, would go back to sleep.
In mid-November, she received a request on Facebook from Redgrave out of the blue, asking her to become his friend. They knew each other vaguely and exchanged messages before he gave her his mobile telephone number.
They later became boyfriend and girlfriend and he sometimes stayed over at her home.
Miss Hopson, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said Redgrave’s behaviour towards Ethan did not give her any concern.
He had a three-year-old son from his marriage to Laura Redgrave and seemed to know how to handle and care for a little boy, she agreed in court.
On December 17, she went out to celebrate the birthday of her friend, Amy Burgess, and Redgrave told her not to worry and to go out and enjoy herself because he would babysit.
Redgrave bathed Ethan and got him ready for bed before giving him half of his bottle. He told Miss Hopson he would give Ethan the rest of his bottle after she left to go out.
Redgrave sent Miss Hopson two text messages, one saying: “Wow. He really is fast asleep.”
Redgrave sent a text at 10.52pm, saying: “Karly, ring me now.”
Miss Hopson told the court: “I asked Amy for her phone and rang him straightaway. I asked him what was up and he said Ethan wasn’t breathing properly.
“I said: ‘Ring an ambulance. I’m coming home’.”
She said she saw a man in a car nearby.
“I asked him if he was a taxi driver and he wasn’t and I asked him if he could take me home,” said Miss Hopson.
“He said he would and I got in his car. I called an ambulance as well.”
Miss Hopson wept as she told the court that, after the two-minute drive, she arrived home to see a paramedic with Ethan.
She borrowed a paramedic’s phone to telephone her mother. Another ambulance arrived and she and Ethan went to hospital.
Redgrave sent a text message saying: “I’m f***ing shaking. Please tell me he’s okay.”
She said that, during the telephone conversation, Redgrave was “quite shaky” and told her: “They are going to think I have done it and I’m going to go to prison. The one time you trust me with him and this happens.”
Miss Hopson’s father later took Redgrave to the hospital. Redgrave kept saying he should have checked Ethan more often, said Miss Hopson.
He later said: “I’m going to be sick.”
Miss Hopson’s mother, Julie Stephenson, said she took a telephone call from her “screaming” daughter, telling her that baby Ethan was not breathing.
Mrs Stephenson said in a statement read to the court that Miss Hopson telephoned her at about 11pm to say: “Ethan’s not breathing. Ethan can’t breathe. The paramedics are here.”
She received text messages from Jason Redgrave to say: “He’s OK, isn’t he? Please tell me he’s OK.”
She did not reply to them.
Mrs Stephenson added in the statement at the time: “Ethan has been a good baby. He’s happy and healthy and always smiling. He’s not been poorly, as far as I am aware. Karly is a good mum.”
The case continues.