Belfast Telegraph

Baby death accused's bail changed to let him go on holiday

By Paul Higgins

A new pathology report on the death of a three-month-old baby girl allegedly killed by her father has been ordered - almost 18 months after the infant died, a judge has heard.

The revelation came at Lisburn Magistrates Court where 25-year-old Christopher O'Neill was applying for his bail conditions to be changed so he can go on holiday in September.

The destination was not revealed.

O'Neill, originally from Glasvey Park in west Belfast but now living on bail in the east of the city, is accused of the manslaughter of his baby daughter Caragh Walsh in February last year.

When he first appeared in court, O'Neill was accused of causing her grievous bodily harm - but within hours of his first appearance on 7 February, the little girl died.

Previous courts have heard how Caragh had suffered a "significant traumatic brain injury" with bleeding onto her brain.

When O'Neill was first charged, a police officer outlined how she was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital "unconscious and not breathing".

The officer said that police were alerted by medical staff because they were not happy with the explanation O'Neill provided for his daughter's injuries and said that when challenged during police interviews, he admitted "shaking" her.

His solicitor claimed O'Neill had been looking after his daughter at the Glasvey Park flat he shared with Caragh's mum, Tammy-Louise Walsh, when their baby "became suddenly ill" so in a "panic," he took steps which he thought were "perfectly reasonable in the circumstances".

The couple had been together for 18 months and had only moved into the apartment five days before the incident, the court heard.

Yesterday, District Judge Rosie Watters said she had no problem with O'Neill going on holiday as the case had been ongoing "for a long time and as long as there's no children going" but that it would hopefully move on with a Preliminary Enquiry scheduled for the end of the month.

O'Neill's solicitor revealed that senior counsel for the PPS had directed "a further pathology report" on the causes for the baby's death, promoting the judge to comment that "sounds ominous" for the proposed Preliminary Enquiry. O'Neill was released on continuing bail and ordered to come back to court on July 30.

Belfast Telegraph


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