Belfast Telegraph

Couples blame each other for injuries to boy (2), court is told

Accused couple: Reuben Santos and his partner Rita Beltrao
Accused couple: Reuben Santos and his partner Rita Beltrao

By Paul Higgins

Two couples accused of scalding a two-year-old boy, who also had bruising to his genitals, are blaming each other, a court has heard.

Portuguese couple Reuben Santos (27) and Rita Beltrao (19) did not attend Antrim Magistrates Court yesterday, although their co-accused Catia Costa (22) and Jorge Da Costa (27) did.

Defence counsel Michael Smith told the court that may be no bad thing, however, as the couples have launched a "cutthroat defence" where they effectively blame the other for the boy's injuries "so it might be best that not everyone is in the dock at the one time".

Da Costa, Beltrao and Santos, all with an address at Greenfields in Randalstown, are on bail accused of child cruelty and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to the infant on March 24 and 25 this year.

Costa, with an address at Ashdale, also in Randalstown, is accused of causing or allowing a child to suffer serious physical harm on the same dates. The charges arose after the boy was taken to Antrim Area Hospital on March 25.

Staff were told he had a genital rash, but when he was examined, they noticed that he had bruising to his private parts, blisters to his shoulder and torso and multiple bruises to his body, leading them to suspect he had been abused.

Giving evidence yesterday, a police officer said there was still "quite a lot outstanding" as regards the investigation, and that the language barrier was delaying matters.

She added that an examination of mobile phones was complete but reports had to be translated into English, while a request had also been made for a specialist medical report.

Freeing the couple on bail and adjourning the case to August 21, District Judge Peter King said, given the number of issues, "I can't imagine anything useful happening for six to eight weeks".

Marking the non-attendance of Beltrao and Santos as accidental, the judge said: "I want to see them in the dock on the next occasion."

Belfast Telegraph

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