Belfast Telegraph

Expert witness delays in alleged baby sex assault case

Warning: This report contains details which some people may find distressing

Newry Magistrates’ Court.
Newry Magistrates’ Court.

By Donal McMahon

The case of a Northern Ireland man accused of raping his two-week-old baby has been adjourned to confirm expert witnesses.

Outstanding medical expert evidence is due from pathology, radiology, neurological and ophthalmic consultants, Newry Magistrates’ Court heard.

DNA testing is also due on a nappy worn by the injured baby.

The defendant, who cannot be named in order to protect identity of his alleged victim, appeared before Newry magistrates via video link.

He has been held on remand in custody since his arrest about eight months ago.

District judge Eamonn King alluded to the waiting time on expert witnesses to be confirmed as a credible delay.

“You cannot just conjure up expert witnesses out of thin air in the matter,” said Mr King.

“The witnesses need to be confirmed and that they have been instructed. There will then be progress afterwards,” added the magistrate.

The accused had previously claimed he may have unintentionally hit the child’s head off a wall while “tired and frustrated”.

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

Four medical expert reports are now due to be completed but will not be provided to the courts for a suggested period of six months.

The defendant faces charges of grievous bodily harm with intent and sexual assault of a child by penetration on September 29, 2018.

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.

A consultant paediatrician provided an opinion earlier in the case that the baby had been sexually assaulted including penetration.

The accused denies any sexual assault.

Mr King adjourned the court for four weeks to confirm the expert witnesses.

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