A father suspected of murdering his five-week-old son killed himself after giving police conflicting accounts of how the baby died, an inquest heard today.
Cooper Eddie Johnson-Hicks died of brain injury from multiple skull fractures after being rushed to hospital by parents Bryony Johnson, 23, and Tristan Hicks, 20, who were both arrested on suspicion of murder.
After Cooper's death on June 26 2016, both were arrested and bailed, with the case against Miss Johnson being dropped in December.
Mr Hicks was bailed and referred to a psychiatric unit, but was re-arrested upon his release on July 21 and killed himself in his father's garage while on bail two days later.
He was found unconscious on the floor with a ligature round his neck and died of an hypoxic brain injury.
An inquest into Cooper's death heard Mr Hicks gave different versions of the same story to different people and squirmed when questioned by police.
Mr Hicks, of St Blazey, Cornwall, originally told police Cooper had flown out of his arms and landed on the other side of the room.
He later claimed he had tripped and landed on top of the child.
In hospital he said he'd stumbled over a Moses basket while carrying Cooper after he was returned by his mum who had gone out drinking with friends.
Mr Hicks then told psychiatric nurse Elizabeth Evans he had been drinking with Ms Johnson at home and tripped carrying Cooper as danced to cheer up the crying children.
In a statement read out at the inquest Ms Evans said: 'He sobbed and said he and his partner were at home with his children and he was making some milk for Cooper.
'Both children were crying and he was trying to cheer them up. He was pretending to be an aeroplane and dancing.
'Tristan said: "It's all my fault, all my fault. Life will never be the same".'
But later, during a police interview, Mr Hicks denied that version of events.
He said: 'I wasn't dancing at the time. I got the stuff out and carried it all down from the car, then I got Cooper because he was crying. I got a bottle and went back but tripped on the Moses basket.
'I picked him up straight away and he seemed fine. I picked him up thinking "s***, s***, s***".'
The transcript of a police interview with Tristan was read out during the inquest in Truro, Cornwall.
Mr Hicks said: 'He seemed fine and normal. He was crying because he was hurt but he took some milk.
'It was hours later that Bryony noticed he was making funny noises.
'I told Bryony straight away and she said he seemed fine. He went all weird about two or three hours later.
'Bryony said "oh you should have been more careful with him".'
Police also quizzed Mr Hicks about fractures to Cooper's ribs which the father had no answer.
Mr Hicks said Miss Johnson checked Cooper and believed he wasn't hurt to begin with, but later became concerned and phoned her sister.
He added in interview: 'She went to a neighbour with him who had medical knowledge. I did not go with them to the neighbour.
'Then the air ambulance arrived. It was an accident when I dropped Cooper and I must have tripped over something.'
Mr Hicks said Cooper had a small bump on the back of his head.
When asked why he didn't tell the paramedics every detail he later revealed: 'I was just worried about him. I was panicking.'
When questioned about injuries that seemed inconsistent with the incident, and whether anything else could have caused the injuries, Mr Hicks said: 'I don't know'.
In a statement read out, Miss Johnson was noted to have said at the hospital: 'I f****** hate you Tristan. I don't want my baby to die. You can't let my baby die.
Dr William Woodward said Cooper had suffered multiple skull fractures and had sustained an 'unsurvivable brain injury'.
'It was agreed that additional treatment would be of no benefit.'
A neighbour also described hearing a baby crying on the day of Cooper's death.
Mark Lentern, who lived in the same building as Hicks and Miss Johnson, said he thought it sounded as if a baby was 'gasping for air'.
Mr Lentern claimed Miss Johnson had stayed at his flat the night before Cooper was taken to hospital because she had been drinking and was 'too drunk' to return home and look after her children.
'I heard a pain type cry come from the baby. It was like he was gaping for air.'
Mr Lentern said another friend arrived at his flat and he told him he was concerned because the baby 'didn't sound right'.
He said he told his friend that the child's mother was asleep in his bedroom.
Mr Lentern said he would have told Miss Johnson about the crying when she woke up but she was in a rush to leave.
Ms Johnson did not attend the inquest yesterday.
Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon said she has been asked to attend tomorrow, when she is due to give evidence.
The inquest, scheduled to last three days, continues.
Via Daily Mail UK