Belfast Telegraph

GP 'may have injured girl'

By Victoria O'Hara

A consultant who treated a severely disabled girl who died five days after being examined by a GP has told a court the doctor who carried out an internal examination could have injured her.

Dr Tharma Suresha, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, had initially told Belfast Crown Court yesterday he believed that he “did not think it was possible” for Dr Mary Donnelly's examination of Rebecca McKeown in 2001 to have hurt her.

The 14-year-old died on March 24, 2001.

Her grandparents, David Johnston (88) and his 86-year-old wife Sarah, from Carwood Drive in Newtownabbey, are charged with her manslaughter. They both deny the charges.

It is claimed Rebecca died after contracting pneumonia as a direct result of an alleged sexual assault.

She had a number of life-limiting medical conditions including spastic cerebral palsy and scoliosis.

Mr Suresha treated Rebecca on March 20, 2001 when she was admitted to hospital with bleeding.

He told the court that he believed her injuries were caused by a “significant” force.

Ms Donnelly (below) was working as an out-of-hours locum GP at the time and treated her at her Newtownabbey home a number of hours earlier.

She had told the court that, initially, she believed the young girl had started her first period. But last week she admitted in court that, for 11 years, she had withheld the full details of the intimate exam.

The doctor agreed her physical examination which she now “regrets” was inappropriate for a child of Rebecca's age and size.

Giving evidence, Mr Suresha said the injury would have been “excruciating”. Mr Suresha said he had only became aware recently that Ms Donnelly had performed an internal examination.

When shown the transcript of Ms Donnelly's evidence where she described what happened, the consultant maintained: “I don’t think it is possible for her (Ms Donnelly) to have done that.”

James Gallagher QC, on behalf of Mr Johnston, asked was this not a case of the “medical profession closing ranks?”

Mr Suresha denied this and again said he did not believe Ms Donnelly would have caused the damage during her examination.

After receiving additional information, however, about the examination carried out by Ms Donnelly, he conceded: “I think it would have caused some tearing.”

And he further went on to tell the court that it “could” have caused injuries.

Earlier, under cross-examination, Ms Donnelly was asked by Mrs Johnston's defence if anyone had previously ever complained about her being rough “taking the blood of a child”.

Ms Donnelly admitted: “There may have been an incident in paediatrics. I can recall an incident.”

The trial continues

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