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Leading consultant tells Caragh Walsh murder trial that baby girl was 'effectively dead' on arrival to hospital

By John Cassidy

A leading consultant has told a jury that three-month-old baby girl Caragh Walsh who was rushed to hospital by paramedics, was "effectively dead'' when she arrived.

Dr Julie Ann Maney was giving evidence on Wednesday on the second day of the trial at Craigavon Crown Court, sitting in Armagh, of a west Belfast man accused of murdering his daughter almost three years ago.

Christopher O'Neill (26), from Whiterock Road, denies murdering his infant daughter who died on February 7, 2014. Two days after being rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children from her Glasveigh Park home in Twinbrook.

It was suggested to the jury on the opening day of the trial by prosecution counsel Toby Hedworth QC that a reason for the baby's death was that "perhaps he, (O'Neill) had snapped because she was crying and he could not get her to settle, only he knows that''.

But Mr Hedworth said it was not suggested that O'Neill intended to kill his baby daughter, but that being unable to quieten her, he "must have lost self-control and that he caused those catalogue of injuries identified by the pathologists".

Dr Maney told the trial on Wednesday that on February 5, 2014, the hospital had been alerted by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service when it received a call to the red "emergency telephone'' on the paediatric ward advising that a paramedic crew was on its way with a three-month-old baby girl who was in cardiac arrest.

When the ambulance arrived at the hospital doors, it was met by Dr Maney and her team who rushed baby Caragh in for emergency treatment

She told the jury of ten men and two women: "At this point we took over her airways. She had agonising breathing. Her breathing was not sufficient to sustain her life.

"She needed assisted breathing. She had no heart rate. She was effectively dead.''

The consultant paediatrician said that as a result "time was of the essence'' and her team of experts set about trying to save baby Caragh's life.

The doctor told trial judge Madam Justice McBride that a needle was inserted into the infant's bloodstream through the bone marrow in her shin bone with "life saving medication to restart her heart''.

She added: "That's the central circulation of the body to reach the heart and other parts of the body very, very quickly.

"We also gave her a strong course of anti-biotics to prevent any infections along with intravenous fluids to support her circulation, her outcome and her survival.

"At 12.43 pm her heart was resuscitated. We started to feel pulses in her groin. We listened to her heart. She had heart sounds and the chest compressions were discontinued. Her cardio vascular system was responding.

Asked by prosecution counsel Toby Hedworth QC if baby Caraagh was stabilised at that stage, Dr Maney replied: "I would say her rate had come back.

"We had taken over her breathing but she was still gravely ill. We needed to support her breathing and give her constant care and support on a life support machine. An anaesthetist inserted a tube from her mouth to her lungs.''

Earlier, emergency medical technician Paul McParland told the jury how on February 5, 2014 he received an emergency call to go Glasveigh Park as an infant had taken ill.

He said that after parking up his ambulance, he was about to climb the steps to the second floor flat when he was met by a colleague, Mr Heaney, who was carrying baby Caragh out in his arms.

Mr McParland said that as he made his way back to the ambulance he was "met by a considerably highly emotional woman who tried to run towards Mr Heaney and I blocked her path''. He added that he didn't know at the time that it was the baby's mother.

The paramedic said that once the baby was in the ambulance he "Used a pair of scissors to cut off the baby grow'' and attach the defibrillator to her body.

The court heard from the witness that the baby's father Christopher O'Neill then got into the ambulance and the seriously ill baby was rushed to the RVH, arriving within 5-7 minutes.

Under cross examination by defence counsel Paddy Little QC, Mr McParland confirmed to the jury that he did not notice any marks or swelling on the baby when he attached the defibrillator to her body.

At hearing.

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