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Parents jailed for causing death of their five-month-old daughter

Rhiannon Ingle

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| Last updated 

Parents jailed for causing death of their five-month-old daughter

Featured Image Credit: Staffordshire Police

Content warning: the subject matter in this article may be upsetting to some readers

A mother and a father have been jailed for causing the death of their five-month-old daughter, Ava Mae Collard.

The ruling was made at at Stafford Crown Court today (27 July) after the parents, Joshua Collard and Rebecca Grocott, were first arrested back in 2020 (25 March).

The pair have been jailed for a combined total of 19 years.

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Ava Mae passed away 1 March 2020 whilst in hospital - just two days after paramedics were called to the family home based in Stone, Staffordshire, 27 February.

The police department announced: "They then called us with reports that a five-month-old baby girl was in cardiac arrest.

"When we arrived, paramedics were treating the baby in an ambulance and she was taken to hospital."

Ava Mae Collard was just five months old when she died. Credit: Staffordshire Police
Ava Mae Collard was just five months old when she died. Credit: Staffordshire Police
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The parents, who claimed they didn't know how the infant suffered the injuries and denied any wrongdoing, were later found guilty after a five-week trial at Stafford Crown Court last week (18 July).

The decision came after a jury heard about how Ava Mae 'had multiple fractures to her ribs, collar bone and femur'.

"She had also suffered severe trauma to the side of her head, causing an injury to her ear," the police noted.

They were both found guilty of cause/allow the death of a child, cause/allow serious physical harm to a child and two counts of assault/ill-treat/neglect/abandon a child/young person to cause unnecessary suffering/injury, Staffordshire Police confirm.

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Collard, 30, who was described by the judge as a 'violent, ill-tempered misogynist', has received an 11 year sentence while 27-year-old Grocott has been jailed for eight years over the tragic death of their child.

Judge Mr Justice Cotter KC said he had seen 'no evidence of any remorse' from Collard for what had happened.

He did, however, accept that mother Grocott was remorseful adding that the infant would have suffered 'pain and misery throughout her short life'.

Joshua Collard was described as a 'violent, ill-tempered misogynist'. Credit: Staffordshire Police
Joshua Collard was described as a 'violent, ill-tempered misogynist'. Credit: Staffordshire Police
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Speaking to the parents, the judge added: "Both of you have lied about events that happened in Ava’s short life. She was grasped so tightly she couldn’t breathe and her heart stopped.

"After a heart attack, she would have been unresponsive in seconds. Neither of you have told the whole truth about what happened."

Addressing Collard, he continued: "You lost interest in her [Ava] when you learned before her birth that she was a girl."

Addressing Grocott, he declared her description of herself as a 'brilliant mum' was 'far from the truth'.

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"You had suspicions that Joshua Collard was injuring Ava. You realised there were unexplained bruises. If you did not cause them, you must have known who did.

"You knew Joshua Collard was ill-tempered and had assaulted you, but you repeatedly lied to social services and the police."

The judge went on to accept that Grocott had a 'lack of maturity and a low IQ' before adding: "You are a woman of good character.

The judge said Rebecca Grocott had a 'lack of maturity and a low IQ'. Credit: Staffordshire Police
The judge said Rebecca Grocott had a 'lack of maturity and a low IQ'. Credit: Staffordshire Police

"You were desperate to marry and have children. I accept you were frightened of Joshua Collard."

Detective Inspector Ian Pickstock, of the force’s Child Protection and Exploitation Team, said: "This is a truly tragic case in which a defenceless five-month-old baby girl died as a result of the actions of two people who should have protected her.

"I would, again, like to thank all of the officers and staff who worked on this case for helping to get justice for Ava Mae.

"We will continue to work with our partners to protect children like Ava from harm, to protect and safeguard children and prevent tragic cases like this one."

In a statement released after the sentencing, Peter Grice, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Joshua Collard and Rebecca Grocott should have loved and nurtured their baby and neither of them took steps to protect her.

"While there is no sentencing outcome that can bring Ava Mae back to her loved ones, I hope today’s sentencing brings her wider family some closure. My deepest sympathy to them all."

If you need information, help or support, you can contact Refuge here or Women's Aid here.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

Topics: Crime, Parenting, UK News, Domestic Abuse

Rhiannon Ingle
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