Expert tells Kayden McGuinness murder trial absence of exact time of death 'crucial'
A medical expert has told the trial of a man who is accused of murdering his then fiancee's three-year-old son that the absence of a precise time of the child's death is "crucial" to the case.
Professor Al-Sarraj, a consultant neuropathologist at King's College Hospital in London, was giving evidence yesterday at the trial of Liam Whoriskey (25), a waiter from Glenanney Gardens, Londonderry.
The professor also told the court that the head injuries sustained by Kayden McGuinness were either minor or mild injuries and that the bruising of the child's brain could have been caused by someone squeezing the boy's head.
Kayden was found dead, with multiple scalp and facial injuries, in his bed in his family flat at 2b Colmcille Court in the Bogside area of Derry by the defendant just before 10am on September 17, 2017.
The defendant was babysitting Kayden and a five-month-old baby girl when their mother, Erin McLaughlin, with whom the defendant lived with and was engaged to, stayed out overnight after socialising with family.
The defendant denies murdering Kayden and also denies two charges of child cruelty and one charge of failing to protect Kayden.
Professor Al-Sarraj said the fatal non-accidental brain injury sustained by Kayden was likely to have occurred between 7pm on September 16, when the child's mother Erin McLaughlin went out socialising, and when the boy's body was found in his bed by the defendant at 10am the following day.
Cross-examined by defence barrister Ciaran Mallon QC, Prof Al-Sarraj said he was not aware that on the evening before Kayden's death, the child had displayed an unusual behavioural pattern.
Mr Mallon said Kayden had gone to bed by himself, hadn't brought his toys to bed with him and didn't play countdown with his mother after she had put his bedtime milk bottle into the microwave.
Asked by Mr Mallon if the unusual behavioural pattern displayed by Kayden the night before his body was found could be an indication of the onset of swelling to the brain from an earlier injury, Prof Al-Sarraj said he agreed with that possibility.
The witness said in such circumstances a child would be confused, irritable and difficult to feed "in a manner typical of a child having sustained a head injury". He also described the absence of a precise time of death as "crucial".
The trial continues.