Belfast Telegraph

GP could have caused injuries to teen, consultant maintains

By Victoria O'Hara

A consultant has again told a court that a GP who treated a severely disabled girl hours before she died could have caused the injuries she sustained.

During the second day of giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court, Dr Suresh Tharma agreed that "it is possible" that the manner in which 14-year-old Rebecca McKeown was examined internally by Dr Mary Donnelly could have hurt her.

Dr Tharma examined Rebecca when she was admitted to hospital in March 2001 after Ms Donnelly had been called to her Newtownabbey home to treat her after blood was found in her nappy.

Rebecca, who suffered from life-limiting medical conditions including spastic cerebral palsy and scoliosis, died on March 24, 2001 from pneumonia, which the prosecution claims was the result of a sexual assault.

Rebecca's grandparents, 88-year-old David Johnston and his 86-year-old wife Sarah, from Carwood Drive, Glengormley, are accused of her manslaughter.

They both deny the charges.

Under cross-examination by a defence barrister for Mrs Johnston yesterday, the consultant gynaecologist was asked if he would have given the same treatment Ms Donnelly administered to Rebecca in her home.

"No, I would not," he said.

Mr Tharma added that if he had considered the bleeding serious enough, he would have taken Rebecca to hospital.

Last week Ms Donnelly admit

ted in court that for 11 years she had failed to report the full details of the intimate examination.

She said two of her fingers had "unintentionally" slipped inside.

The consultant told judge Mr Justice McLaughlin that it was difficult "to time" when Rebecca (right) would have gone into shock due to the nature of the injury.

He said, however, that the shock would have taken place within hours of her being rushed to hospital.

Mr Tharma added that it could have been apparent to the doctor who initially examined her at home.

In re-examination from the prosecution, however, Mr Tharma agreed that if the original bleeding was caused by some form of trauma, it was "unlikely" that the examination carried out by Dr Donnelly resulted in the "damage" he witnessed when examining her in hospital.

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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