Uncle told police dead girl beaten by violent father, inquest hears
The uncle of a young girl who died under mysterious circumstances broke down in tears and begged a police officer to protect him as he revealed the child and her mother were beaten by her former husband.
The Coroner's Court heard the testimony from a detective during the second day of an inquest into the death of four-year-old Lindsey Angela Alvaraz from Dundonald.
She died on August 4, 2009 at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast after her brain swelled in a condition known as cerebral hypoxia and oedema.
Little Lindsey was an only child and lived with her Filipino mother Amelda Alvarez in a first floor flat in Dundonald.
Five days before her death she suffered a fall down a staircase in the apartment complex where she lived.
She was being cared for her by her uncle Michael Valderama while her mother was working as a nurse at the Ulster Hospital.
Lindsey was also found to have ingested a large amount of salt. However, Assistant State Pathologist for Northern Ireland Dr Peter Ingram, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said it was not possible to determine what caused the fatal swelling of the brain.
"What was not clear was the underlying caused of cerebral oedema," he said.
"In conclusion the post mortem examination failed to identify the cause of cerebral oedema."
He noted a large number of bruises on the child consistent with a finger being prodded into her as well as eight fractured ribs, which "could have been sustained in a heavy fall or could be non-accidental trauma".
Dr Ingram also said Lindsey had bruising on her face and neck.
The neck bruising was consistent with "having been grasped firmly". She also had bruises on her arm, chest and abdomen which were typical of non-accident injury, consistent with being poked by a finger, and there were four small bruises of around 1cm in diameter each on the back of her scalp, again consistent with fingertip injuries.
Dr Ingram also told Coroner Jim Kitson yesterday that he didn't expect raised sodium levels would cause swelling of the brain, and that was more consistent of low sodium levels.
She had been looked after by her uncle, who lived next door along with her three cousins, on July 29 when she suffered her fall down the stairs.
One of the other children told the police that she didn't cry after her fall, seemed fine and simply stood up again.
The next day she refused breakfast and suffered two bouts of diarrhoea. She was admitted to the Ulster Hospital but her condition deteroriated quickly and she was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where she died on August 4.
STORY SO FAR
Four-year-old Lindsey Alvarez and her mother were both beaten by her former husband Angelito Alvarez, known as JoJo, according to her uncle.
It also emerged that Lindsey was placed on the child protection register in 2005 at 14 months when she suffered fractures to her lower limbs. Her father was not prosecuted over the incident. He is believed to be living in the Philippines.