A MAN accused of murdering his baby daughter has told a court that he did not have the courage to face the truth after she died.

Giving evidence in his own defence at Manchester Crown Court Ali Zain said he feared the anger of his wife and her parents following the death of 10-month-old Aiman Toor.

“I did not want to accept what I had done,” he added.

But the jury was told that his wife and her family still support him. As Zain was about to give evidence, his father-in-law, sat in the public gallery, gave him a thumbs-up sign.

Zain initially claimed he had fallen down the stairs at his Crompton Street, Farnworth home with the baby, but changed his story to police twice more after medical evidence disproved his claims.

In the witness box Zain told how he had lain on his bed with his daughter, with a quilt pulled up to their necks and he had gone to sleep but was awoken by her crying.

He said that he did not open his eyes but rubbed her chest over the quilt before placing it over her mouth and repeatedly “tapping” it.

“I was trying to make her quiet and I placed the quilt on top of her mouth and my hand was on the quilt as well,” he said.

Zain said that when she stopped crying he thought she had fallen asleep as well and he dozed off again.

She was still motionless when he woke, went downstairs and saw a message on his phone from his wife asking, “How are my two babies?” and so decided to wake his daughter and make a video call to Sahar.

But when he went back into the bedroom the child did not respond to him tickling her feet and he said he “panicked”, shook her but could not wake her, carried her downstairs and called 999.

He admitted that he lied about falling when he spoke to police because he alleged that in Pakistan, where he lived until 2017, police torture and beat people.

And he stated that he continued lying because he feared the reaction of his wife and her family.

“I thought they would be angry with me and they would hate me,” he said.

Zain, aged 25, told the court that he was delighted when he and his wife, Sahar Toor, discovered she was pregnant with their first child in March 2018.

“When I found out that my wife was expecting I was very happy that I am becoming a father,” Zain told the jury.

“I was very, very happy that I am having a child – my own child.”

Zain was present at hospital when baby Aiman was born on December 5, 2018.

He was emotional as he told the court: “When I first held my daughter in my hands I felt I was the luckiest father in the world.

“I always wanted a girl in my life. I was happy and joyful.”

The court heard that the couple and the new-born went to stay with Sahar’s parents for 40 days before returning to their own home.

Zain worked as a manager of Subway sandwich shops and in June or July Sahar returned to work as a manager at the Holiday Inn Express by the Trafford Centre.

Zain told the jury that his parents-in-law often looked after the baby and, in the days before her death on November 1, 2019, the child slept most nights at her grandparents’ address.

He added that he would visit his daughter there but was never alone with her.

The court previously heard from pathologists that 10-month-old baby Aiman had suffered fractures to seven ribs between two and five days before her death.

But, questioned by his barrister, Mohammed Nawaz QC, Zain stressed that he had not been alone with his daughter when he visited her.

“I did not cause rib fracture,” he said.

“I did not know how those ribs have been fractured.

“I did not see her more crying than usual. I did not see her in distress. She seemed to me normal and happy.”

Zain told how he was tired when he returned home from work on the afternoon of November 1 and was met outside by his wife, who was on her way to work and his mother-in-law, who had been looking after Aiman.

He added that, when the child was handed over to him to look after, he had not been expecting it.

Aiman was sleeping when he carried her into the house and remained so while he got something to eat.

At around 3pm he said he carried her upstairs and put her in her cot in his bedroom while he got a shower and changed.

Zain is accused of murdering baby Aiman, who died from asphyxia.

The prosecution allege that he killed the child by squeezing her chest and covering her face with a quilt because she would not stop crying.

Although Zain admits he lied to police, initially telling them that he fell downstairs with the child and later confessing that he did smother her, he denies he intended to harm his daughter.

“Was it your aim or purpose to kill Aiman?” asked Mr Nawaz.

“I did not,” replied Zain, who described Aiman's death as "my serious mistake".

The trial continues.