Mum’s kids taken away after boyfriend nearly shook their baby to death – and blamed her
As her baby daughter’s life hung in the balance after a devastating brain haemorrhage, Kirsty Lister thought things couldn’t get any worse.
But when doctors explained that three-month-old Mollie-Grace had been violently shaken, her world imploded.
The tot’s seemingly gentle and doting dad Michael Montandon confessed to partner Kirsty he caused the catastrophic injuries.
And the nightmare got worse. Sickeningly, he refused to admit his guilt to police and tried to pin the blame on her, writes the Sunday People .
Kirsty, 30, was arrested on suspicion of inflicting grievous bodily harm on her girl, which could have led to her being jailed .
The mum, of Scunthorpe, Lincs, instantly lost custody of Mollie-Grace and her daughter, four, from a previous relationship.
And that meant she was not allowed to be with her baby as she fought for her life.
She said: “I’ve never been in trouble in my life. I’d never hurt anyone, let alone my baby.
“But because of Michael’s lies, I found myself sobbing my heart out in a police cell.
“For hours I had no idea if my daughter was even dead or alive. Yet I couldn’t be with her when she needed me most. I can never forgive him for that.”
Mollie-Grace nearly died from two bruises and a blood clot on her brain but made a remarkable recovery. She and her sister then had to move in with Kirsty’s dad Steve, 50, who gave up his job to care for the girls so they would not be taken into care.
Kirsty was on bail for ten months before police decided there was not enough evidence to charge her. And last week brutal Montandon, 30, was jailed for two years after finally admitting what he had done.
Only then did Kirsty learn that the man she once loved had a string of previous convictions for violence. She said: “Two years will never be enough. One day, I am going to have to explain to Mollie Grace that her dad hurt her.
“Michael was always so loving and gentle, especially with the children. I had no idea what he was capable of.
“We’d already been talking about marriage and my family were over the moon.”
When Mollie-Grace was born in September 2014, jobless Montandon wept tears of joy.
He seemed to be a model dad , changing nappies and helping with night feeds. But one night that December Mollie-Grace was crying and restless and Montandon offered to tend to her while Kirsty got some sleep.
In the early hours she was woken by his voice. She rushed downstairs to find Montandon holding Mollie-Grace, who was floppy and unresponsive.
Kirsty recalled: “He was screaming that she wasn’t breathing. The next few minutes are a blur. The ambulance went to the wrong house and I had to chase it down the street.
“Michael was trying to give Mollie-Grace CPR. It was chaos. The journey to hospital was the longest of my life. She was like a rag doll. I honestly thought she was going to die.”
Kirsty collapsed in tears as she was told her baby might not pull through, or could be left blind or paralysed. “I wouldn’t leave Mollie-Grace’s side,” she said.
“At one point she stopped breathing and alarms around her bed started to go off. Doctors and nurses ran into the room and told us all to get out.
“I’m not religious but there was a picture of Jesus in the hospital and I started to pray to him, telling him I’d do anything if he could just let my little girl be OK.”
Then she noticed that Montandon was behaving oddly. She said: “I thought Michael would be as distraught as I was but he asked me for money for a pizza. Food was the last thing on my mind. He was watching TV in a waiting room and joking about a quiz show.”
At that point, doctors told the pair Mollie-Grace’s injuries could only have been caused by violent shaking or being dropped from a height. “I couldn’t take it in,” Kirsty said. “It was as if she’d been in a car accident. I sobbed. Who could have done this?”
She soon found out when Montandon called her to the hospital car park. She said: “First he said he might have dropped or shaken Mollie-Grace but couldn’t remember. Then he said he shook her because she stopped breathing.
“It was like someone had stuck a knife into my stomach. My little girl was fighting for her life and her dad was responsible.
“All I remember is howling at him, screaming that he had to tell the police.”
Montandon was arrested and distraught Kirsty returned to Mollie-Grace’s bedside.
But three days later, the unthinkable happened. She said: “The police came to the hospital. They told me they were arresting me. I was gobsmacked.
“I couldn’t bear to leave Mollie-Grace, who was having seizures before my eyes.
“I was taken to a cell, where I curled up in a heap and cried, wondering how Mollie-Grace was, if she was alive or dead.
“I was told I was being placed on bail and both children were being removed from my custody. All I’ve ever wanted is to be a mum and I just couldn’t cope. I was convinced I’d never see them again if I went to prison.”
For the next ten months, Kirsty was only allowed contact with her children if another adult approved by social services was present. “I’ll be forever grateful to my dad,” she said. “He gave up everything to care for the girls.
“But I wasn’t allowed to bathe them or put them to bed, all the things a mum should do.
“I kept telling myself justice would prevail. But it was Michael’s word against mine. How could I be sure?” Then in October 2015 Kirsty got the call she’d been waiting for. She faced no charges and her ex would stand trial.
She said: “I burst into tears of relief when they told me I could bring the children home.
“When I took them both to the park it was one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Hull Crown Court heard Montandon had shaken Mollie-Grace “in a moment of acute anger” after she cried during the night feed.
He pleaded guilty and Kirsty went to see him sentenced. She said: “It was during the court process I learned of his past and how violent he was. I felt sick. It was the first time I’d seen him since he’d told me what he’d done. I felt nothing for a man I’d once loved.
“Mollie-Grace could have behavioural problems and might be behind at school. I’ll never have another relationship. How could I trust another man around my children?
“But I’ve learned to be grateful. I have two beautiful daughters – and my freedom.”