Manhunt for North East dad convicted of causing daughter's death

The pair are due to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday.
The pair are due to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday.

A man convicted over the death of a newborn baby is being hunted by the police after going on the run while on trial.

Tequiilah Burke, who was just four months old, suffered fatal injuries when her mother Victoria Burke argued with boyfriend Paul Nicholson about her coming home late from working at a nightclub.

Newcastle Crown Court heard prosecutors cannot prove who inflicted the physical violence on the baby girl and who stood by "and did nothing to prevent it".

Burke, 24, and Nicholson, 20, both denied causing or allowing the death of a child but have been convicted after a trial.

The pair will be sentenced on Thursday - even though Nicholson has been on the run since last week.

He will be sentenced in his absence if he cannot be found.

Mr Justice Jay said: "No doubt despite police endeavours, they haven't found him.

"It is plainly desirable he be found as soon as possible."

The court heard it was during the closing speeches of the trial that Nicholson failed to return to his bail hostel and did not attend court.

He is now being hunted by Northumbria Police.

Burke, who had been on bail during the trial, has been remanded in custody until the sentence hearing later this week.

The judge said there was a risk of Burke having contact with Nicholson and a chance she could also abscond if bail had been allowed.

The pair had both claimed the baby just stopped breathing while she was asleep in her cot.

Prosecutor Robert Smith QC told the court Burke and Nicholson, who claimed he was the baby's natural father though it was denied by the mother, had been in their home at Crigdon Hill, East Denton, Newcastle, alone when an ambulance was called for the baby in the early morning of December 14, 2013.

Despite desperate efforts to revive her, the baby was pronounced dead in hospital.

Mr Smith said injuries found after her death, to her eyes and brain as well as bruising, indicate she had been subjected to "physical violence" and there was also evidence of an older head injury.

The court heard in the days before the baby's death Burke and Nicholson had been arguing about her recent employment in a nightclub.

Nicholson was suspicious about her "association with other men" through the job.

The court heard on the morning of the baby's death, Burke had gone to meet pals after she finished work at 3am, and returned home after 6am that morning.

It was during the argument that followed her return that the baby received the fatal injuries, prosecutors claim.

Mr Smith said: "It is likely, the prosecution submit, Tequiilah was injured during the course of the argument by one or other or both of the defendants, each of them exhibiting loss of temper towards the other."