Mother did nothing to prevent abuse and murder of her child, court hears
A mother stood by and let her boyfriend abuse and eventually murder her 15-month-old daughter, a court has heard.
Rachael Martin's young daughter Millie would still be alive today if only her mother had intervened, a prosecution barrister told a jury at Dungannon courthouse on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old from Main Street, Kesh, Co Fermanagh, is charged with allowing cruelty and the death of her daughter.
She appeared in the dock for the first day of trial yesterday alongside her ex-boyfriend Barry Mc- Carney (33), from Bridge Street, Trillick, Co Tyrone, who is accused of abusing, sexually assaulting and murdering the young child.
Millie died two weeks before Christmas 2009 from severe trauma to the head while living with her mother and McCarney at Glebe Park in Enniskillen.
The court was told that she would have become ill almost immediately after the “irreversible” head injury, which caused swelling to her brain. When she was brought to hospital she was also found to have seven fractured ribs which had occurred about four weeks earlier.
The court was told that to sustain those injuries she would have been severely gripped or squeezed with force similar to that experienced in a road traffic accident.
She also had bruises all over her body and had been punched or jabbed in the stomach.
Brushing and swelling consistent with sexual assault were also discovered.
Crown prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC accused McCarney of abusing Millie for several months before he killed her.
He said the abuse started after Millie's first birthday when he and the child's mother embarked on a relationship.
He also accused Rachael Martin of having “wilfully closed her eyes to what she knew and ought to have known was happening and likely to happen”.
Mr Murphy added: “The injuries which Millie had were too severe and too many for her not to have known very well this child
was being abused. For whatever reason, whether it was the relationship with Barry McCarney, she did not do anything to stop it.
“She did not take any action to stop it getting out of control. She doesn't accept or express any wrongdoing. We say that is inconsistent with the level of abuse suffered by this child.
“Had she taken steps to remove the child from Barry McCarney this child would not have died,” Mr Murphy declared.
He told the jury Millie Martin was born on September 5, 2008.
“Millie Martin had her first birthday on September 5, 2009. It was around that time that her mother formed a relationship with the defendant Barry McCarney.
“Up until the day of her daughter's birthday there was no evidence to suggest she had suffered any form of abuse,” said Mr Murphy.
He added: “However, from her first birthday she was subjected to physical abuse and it was during that time that Barry McCarney was staying in the house and involved with Rachael Martin.”
Millie died on December 11, 2009. Her mother had left her daughter alone with McCarney for a short time to go to the shop when the child was allegedly injured. It is the prosecution case that McCarney was the only person with the opportunity to commit the fatal injuries.
The jury was told they will hear evidence from nurses and doctors who attempted to save Millie.
The witnesses will give evidence about Millie's injuries, as well as the demeanour of the two accused while in the Erne Hospital and later the Royal Victoria Hospital with the child, the court heard.
“You will be satisfied that the evidence is clear and persuasive, to the extent you are firmly convinced of the guilt of the two accused,” said Mr Murphy.
The case is expected to run until December. McCarney was remanded in custody and Martin was released on bail.
She listened, tight-lipped and still, as the litany of injuries was read aloud
By Deborah McAleese
Fifteen-month-old Millie Martin, who died in December 2009. Left: her mother Rachael outside court yesterday. Right: Barry McCarney, the man accused of MIllie’s murder, and flowers outside the house in Enniskillen in the days after after the tot’s death pacemaker
Lips pursed tightly together and staring straight ahead, Rachael Martin betrayed little emotion as she listened to the long list of injuries her young daughter had suffered before her violent death.
Seven fractured ribs several weeks old, bruising across her face, head and body, a burnt finger and a severe head trauma. Just some of the many injuries found on the lifeless body of 15-month-old Millie two weeks before Christmas 2009.
Martin's former boyfriend Barry McCarney, who sat just inches away from her in the dock at Dungannon courthouse yesterday, is accused of abusing, sexually assaulting and murdering Millie. She is accused of allowing cruelty and the death of her child.
The 27-year-old sat motionless as the court was told that she could have prevented her daughter's death.
“Rachael Martin wilfully closed her eyes to what she knew and ought to have known was happening and likely to happen ... Had she taken steps to remove the child from Barry McCarney, this child would not have died,” prosecution barrister Ciaran Murphy QC declared.
McCarney, who was smartly dressed in a suit, became increasingly agitated throughout court proceedings.
He rocked backwards and forwards on the bench and rubbed his face and his eyes persistently as the court was told about Millie's injuries.
Two prison guards sat between the ex-lovers, who did not look towards each other once.
When the jury entered the courtroom yesterday morning for the first day of trial, Judge Mr Justice Stephens warned them that they may find the evidence in the case distressing.
“But you must clear your mind of all sympathy for the accused or victim of this crime and listen to the facts in a calm and dispassionate way,” he told them.
Millie was born on September 5, 2008, and there was no evidence that she had been abused before her first birthday, the court was told.
However, from her first birthday, when her mother entered into a relationship with McCarney (33), she was “subject to physical abuse”, Mr Murphy, prosecuting, claimed.
The court heard that on the day of Millie's death McCarney had gone to work in the morning, but after a short time told colleagues he felt ill and called Martin to come and collect him.
They arrived back at the house in Glebe Park, Enniskillen, where they lived with Millie, at around 10.20am.
Martin took her daughter out for the day, returning at 5pm. At about 8.30pm she went to a nearby shop, leaving her daughter alone with McCarney.
When she returned she received a phone call from McCarney, who said he was on his way to the hospital with Millie.
It is the prosecution case that while he was alone with Millie he subjected her to a “significant head trauma”.
The court was told that Millie would have been severely ill almost immediately after the injuries were inflicted upon her and that McCarney would have been the only person with her at the time.
McCarney, however, told police that while Martin was out he had gone upstairs to check on Millie and heard her take a big gasp. He said he thought she had swallowed something and stuck two fingers down her throat to clear it.
When she failed to respond, he said he lifted Millie, who was wrapped in a blanket, and went to the next-door neighbour Patrick Breen and asked for a lift to the Erne Hospital.
Mr Breen told the court: “At about 8.30pm there was a heavy banging on my door... A gentleman appeared with a child in his arms. He said the child had stopped breathing and could I run him to the hospital. I agreed to do so. The child was cradled in his left arm.”
Mr Breen added that McCarney appeared “very anxious” to get the child to the hospital.
When they arrived, a male nurse heard McCarney shouting, “I need a doctor, I need a doctor”, so he rushed him to the accident and emergency department where a team of doctors and nurses battled in vain to save the little girl's life.
Dr John Mackin, a consultant paediatrician, told the court that concern had been raised by members of staff that Millie may have been sexually assaulted.
He said that he checked her body and found bruises and swelling that were consistent with sexual assault.
Dr Mackin also said that Millie had multiple episodes of bruising, which were a sign of “blunt trauma.”
He said that he believed her injuries were “non-accidental.”
A map and photographs of the house where Millie had lived and was allegedly abused were shown to the jury.
One juror appeared to flinch as she looked through the photographs showing Millie's cot, her bedroom decorated with pink accessories and a Christmas tree.
Rachael Martin leaned forward to try and catch a glimpse of the photographs of the house where she had once lived with her daughter.
McCarney roughly rubbed his eyes as though wiping away tears. No tears were visible.
Neighbour recalls the harrowing dash to hospital
By Deborah McAleese
A former neighbour of Rachael Martin and Barry McCarney has told of his emergency dash to the hospital in a bid to save the life of 15-month-old Millie.
Patrick Breen said he was upstairs in his Enniskillen home when he heard banging on his front door at around 8.30pm on December 11, 2009.
When he looked out he saw Barry McCarney holding Millie in his left arm.
Mr Breen said that murder accused McCarney told him that Millie was not breathing and asked him to bring them to the hospital.
“We got into the car. Another vehicle pulled up. He mentioned that was the child's mother but he asked me to continue to the hospital so I drove on.
“The child was doing very little. She seemed a bit limp. As we were driving towards the hospital he (McCarney) slapped the child on the left cheek several times. I asked him to stop and to blow into the child's mouth or massage its chest,” Mr Breen told the court.
He added that at one stage McCarney asked him to overtake a car in front but he refused to do so because it was on a dangerous bend.
A defence barrister for McCarney, Eilis McDermott QC, asked Mr Breen: “So it appears he was anxious to get the child to the hospital?”
Mr Breen replied: “He was definitely anxious to get to the hospital.”
Dr John Mackin, a consultant paediatrician at the Erne Hospital whose role also involves child protection, said that when he examined Millie he discovered bruising and swelling that would suggest sexual assault.
He said that as well as the fatal head injury she also had “multiple episodes of bruising” across her body and fractured ribs.
Dr Mackin told the court that no explanation was given by the two accused as to how the injuries may have occurred.
He added that in his view the injuries were non-accidental.