Belfast Telegraph

Tot suffered multiple blows, doctor tells trial

The injuries to a seven-month-old baby who was allegedly battered by her father were akin to those in a car crash, a doctor claimed.

Giving evidence at the Belfast Crown Court trial of the 25-year-old father, paediatric expert Dr Patricia Kenny described to the jury how the varying nature and widespread bruising suffered by the baby girl must have come from a multiplicity of blows, as if “you have been banging about in a road traffic accident”.

The jury have already heard how the little girl suffered a skull fracture to the right side of her forehead as well as extensive bruising all over her face and over the top of her head.

Asked what force would be needed to cause such a fracture, Dr Kenny said it was “unusual” to see fractures of the frontal bone in babies as babies are “pretty tough”.

“Unless there's been a forceful impact, way more than just a fall off a changing table,” said the doctor, “we are talking about a fall from a first floor window or in a road traffic accident. Skull fractures don't occur accidentally unless there's been a significant forceful impact.”

The 25-year-old west Belfast man, who cannot be identified to protect his daughter's identity, denies causing the baby grievous bodily harm with intent on November 3, 2010.

He told police during interviews that when he was alone with his daughter for about 20 minutes around lunchtime that day, the only time she was hurt was when he accidentally hit her head off the staircase wall as he carried her up to bed for a nap and also when he accidentally dropped her bottle of milk which hit her in the face as he bent over to put her in bed.

Yesterday, however, Dr Kenny said his claims were “not plausible explanations for the range of injuries we can see”.

She told the jury that bottles of milk, even when full, are not that heavy, are only made of plastic and would not cause anything more than a one centimetre bruise.

Likewise, the paediatric expert said if her head had hit the wall accidentally, there might be a mark or bruise to the top of her head, but not the extensive bruising all over the little girl's face.

Asked by prosecuting lawyer Kate McKay if she had any “unifying explanation”, Dr Kenny said that looking at the photographs of the bedroom where the incident allegedly occurred, she could see a metal framed wicker basket near the bed.

She said that with the varied nature of the bruises themselves as well as the skull fracture, “this is consistent with the baby's head being bashed against a structure like that because that would give you the deeper bruises and the possibility of a skull fracture underneath, depending on how hard the head was slammed against it”.

The trial continues.

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