An expert witness in the Millie Martin murder trial has told a court how sadistic child abusers will target areas where injuries are not apparent, and can “camouflage” their activities by inflicting a wound on top of an existing injury.
The claims were made by the final defence witness, Dr Joanne Nelson, a consultant paediatrician and specialist in child abuse cases.
She was called on behalf of Rachael Martin (27), Millie’s mother, who is accused of allowing the Fermanagh toddler’s death and wilfully neglecting the 15-month-old.
Martin’s former partner, 33-year-old Barry McCarney from Trillick, denies murdering Millie, and sexually and physically abusing her.
Martin’s defence QC John McCrudden asked Dr Nelson about a bruise to Millie’s right ear.
Dr Nelson said that if a toddler stumbles and falls against a hard surface it is “entirely possible for a child to sustain an injury of that nature”.
She agreed that the injury could have been caused my Millie falling against a chair, but added: “I’m surprised at the extent of the bruising”.
Mr McCrudden asked her if that injury alone could have caused the “large-scale, obvious and widely distributed” bruise seen by witnesses and if someone smacking or hitting the child in that area would “camouflage” the injury.
Dr Nelson replied: “A second injury, if it was inflicted over the first, could be camouflaged by the first.”
She said she had seen this camouflage activity before.
Turning to the 21 rib fractures suffered by Millie, the doctor told the court “it’s very difficult to diagnose rib fractures in children”.