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Couple accused of scalding toddler banned from contact with children in Northern Ireland


Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

A couple accused of cruelty to a two-year-old boy, allegedly scalding and subjecting him to genital injuries, are banned from contact with any children under 16, a High Court judge ordered today.

The prohibition was imposed on Reuben Santos, 26, and his 19-year-old partner Rita Beltrao as they were granted bail on charges of causing grievous harm to the toddler in Co Antrim.

The defendants, both Portuguese nationals who lived at Greenfields in Randalstown, deny the allegations against them.

At a previous hearing the court was told the boy had been brought to Antrim Area Hospital's Accident and Emergency department on March 25 with multiple injuries.

Medical staff were informed that he had an infection in his groin area, according to the prosecution.

When the child was examined by a doctor he had multiple bruising to his body, blisters on his left torso and left shoulder.

A Crown lawyer said swelling was found on his groin and scrotum - which led medics to suspect the injuries were consistent with physical abuse.

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Neither Beltrao nor Santos are a parent to the alleged victim.

Police established they had been living with their own young daughter at the same address as the boy and his father.

All three adults are accused of child cruelty and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

In custody Beltrao told officers she had been aware of bruising on the boy and bought cream to apply to those areas, the court heard.

Santos also denied hurting the youngster following his arrest.

He told police that when he asked about the scalding, the alleged victim's father blamed it on hot water when the child turned off the cold tap while being bathed.

Santos also claimed he took the youngster to hospital after he became increasingly restless, with the father arriving later.

Further explanations involved the child being prone to falling over due to having one leg shorter than the other, and a family dog knocking him over.

As the case returned to court today, prosecution counsel Conor Maguire said the boy has been placed on a child protection register.

"He has been categorised as confirmed physical harm, confirmed emotional harm and confirmed neglect," the barrister said.

But with a new address in Co Armagh available to Santos and Beltrao, Mrs Justice Keegan ruled the couple could be granted bail on strict conditions.

She ordered both to lodge £750 cash sureties, banned any departure from Northern Ireland and instructed them to surrender passports and travel documents amid concerns they may try to flee.

Prohibiting contact with any child under the age of 16, the judge stressed the couple will only be allowed to see their own daughter with social services approval.

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