Belfast Telegraph

Child porn found on phone of Co Down man accused of raping and causing brain injuries to baby, court told

By Alan Erwin

A man accused of raping and causing brain injuries to a baby claimed he may have unintentionally hit the child's head off a wall while "tired and frustrated", the High Court heard on Friday.

The 25-year-old defendant, who cannot be identified, denies sexually assaulting the 12-day-old infant in Co Down.

But prosecutors argued the injuries inflicted, including broken ribs and thigh bones, were so severe that they could not have been accidental.

A judge was also told police have discovered extreme pornographic material and indecent images of children on a phone linked to the accused.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice McAlinden ruled it would be "wholly inappropriate" to release him from custody.

The man faces charges of grievous bodily harm with intent and sexual assault of a child by penetration on September 29 this year.

Crown counsel Samuel Magee said police were alerted after the baby was brought to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry with unexplained injuries.

The child had sustained a brain haemorrhage, a number of broken bones, traumatic bruising and was bleeding when admitted.

Medical professionals believe the fractures may have been due to the use of significant force, such as through the tugging or twisting of limbs, the court heard.

As details of the injuries were disclosed, three women in the public gallery gasped and left the courtroom.

A consultant paediatrician provided an opinion that the baby had been sexually assaulted, according to Mr Magee.

He said the accused told police of attempts to wind the unsettled child while in his care at a house on the night in question.

"The only explanation he proffered was that he was tired and frustrated, and may have hit the baby's head on the wall as he was going downstairs," the barrister continued.

The man gave no explanation for the bruising, and categorically denies any sexual assault.

Despite the alleged victim's condition improving, Mr Magee was cautious about the prognosis.

"The future for this child is significantly unknown," he submitted.

Opposing bail, he insisted: "These injuries are so severe they could not have been accidental."

Mr Justice McAlinden was also told of a potential risk to the accused's own safety, based on social media commentary surrounding the case.

During exchanges with the judge, defence counsel confirmed his client apparently accept responsibility for the head injury.

"His case is that it wasn't intentionally caused," the barrister said.

Ruling that the accused must remain in custody, however, Mr Justice McAlinden cited the potential risks of further offending, interference with witnesses and to his own safety.

He confirmed: "The court is convinced in this particular case that the grant of bail would be wholly inappropriate." 

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