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8 April 2015, 12:45
A Birmingham couple accused of murdering a 14-month-old boy are to stand trial later this year.
Tereza Lackova and her partner 27-year-old Marek Holub have been charged over the killing of toddler Santino Balaz, after his death on New Year's Day.
The couple, currently in custody but formerly of Brighton Road in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham, are further accused of causing or allowing the boy's death.
Both the accused appeared in the dock of Birmingham Crown Court today on what was due to be a plea hearing, with a trial date already previously fixed to run in the summer.
However, prosecutors explained that detailed expert medical evidence was still awaited and that a new trial date would need to be fixed.
Lackova, wearing a sweatshirt, smiled at family in the public gallery as she entered court, while Holub, wearing a t-shirt, occasionally glanced across to his partner but otherwise sat quietly.
Santino is Lackova's step-brother, with the 19-year-old caring for the youngster while his natural mother was in the Czech Republic, where she remains.
Explaining the potential delay in proceedings, Christopher Hotten QC said: "We're all agreed June 3 does not appear to be realistic and that it must be vacated and re-fixed, but are of course in the court's hands.''
Judge Melbourne Inman QC agreed with that analysis and set a trial date for November 16.
"It's important these trials are heard as soon as possible, where practical,'' he said, but added he was satisfied the trial "cannot sensibly take place'' in the summer.
A new plea hearing date was set for July 17, with both the accused due back before the court on that date.
Santino, a Czech national, died at Birmingham Children's Hospital on January 1, after an ambulance was called to the family home the same day.
A post mortem found he had suffered extensive injuries and fractures to several areas of his body, according to West Midlands Police.
Officers from the force have made contact with the boy's mother and are keeping her informed.