Belfast Telegraph

Mother who gave her severely disabled child a salt overdose loses her appeal

BY ALAN ERWIN

A mother has failed to overturn a verdict that she deliberately gave her severely disabled child an overdose of salt.

The Court of Appeal rejected claims that the ruling contained insufficient reasons and ignored the timeframe and context of the alleged poisoning.

Her little girl was just under two years old when she suffered significant harm through the overdose in January 2010. She had ingested up to two teaspoons of salt, possibly from a contaminated tin of food supplement.

According to expert medical opinion, it was most likely delivered through a gastric tube to bypass the child's taste mechanism and straight into her stomach.

Both parents were later interviewed by police on suspicion of attempted murder.

In 2011 a High Court judge found, on the balance of probabilities, that the girl's mother had been the perpetrator.

His verdict was part of proceedings brought by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

The child, who suffered a severe brain injury due to nearly drowning months after she was born, is fed using a gastric tube. She is also spoon-fed soft foods mixed with proprietary supplements.

Her care arrangements were shared following the separation of her parents.

The girl's mother denied any responsibility.

She suggested the child's father could have gained entrance to her house while she was out.

Alternatively, he might have or seized a later opportunity during a few moments she left him alone to go to the toilet, the woman claimed. The child's father denied that he was ever on his own in the house during the day of the incident.

His ex-partner was held responsible after the High Court judge found her account to be unbelievable.

She submitted that the judge neglected to take into account the context and timeframe of the evidence indicating that the child had been poisoned.

Her explanation was that she had not mentioned the father's opportunity to adulterate the boiled water earlier because she hoped for some innocent explanation.

However, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said the salt poisoning suspicions were first raised with the parents in February 2010.

They must have known at that stage that they were the only likely two perpetrators, he said.

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