Belfast Telegraph

I saw Rebecca and she was agitated, brother tells court

The younger brother of a profoundly disabled girl has spoken of how he arrived at his grandparents’ home to find her “very agitated” and “whimpering” on the afternoon they are alleged to have sexually assaulted her.

Glen McKeown said he knew “there was something wrong” with his 14-year-old sister Rebecca when he saw her lying on their sofa on March 19, 2001.

Mr McKeown recalled the afternoon as he gave evidence at the Belfast Crown Court trial of his grandparents David and Sarah Johnston, who are charged with the manslaughter of Rebecca on March 24, 2001 and a further offence of child cruelty five days previously. The elderly couple, from Carwood Drive in Newtownabbey, deny the charges.

Mr McKeown yesterday told the jury of seven men and five women that when he went into his grandparents’ house on March 19, Rebecca was “very agitated” and “whimpering”.

The jury have already heard that Rebecca had a range of life-limiting medical conditions which left her confined to a specially moulded wheelchair, unable to walk, talk or eat for herself, and requiring constant care.

The teenager, who had the body mass of a six-year-old child, died after contracting pneumonia, which — according to the prosecution — came as a direct result of a sexual assault she suffered at the hands of one or other grandparent.

Under cross-examination, Mr McKeown agreed it was not unusual for Rebecca to be slightly “whingey” if she was unwell.

Later in the day, the jury heard evidence from Dr Mary Donnelly, an out-of-hours GP who treated Rebecca before she was admitted to hospital.

She told prosecuting QC Toby Hedworth that having been shown the teen’s blood-stained nappy, and after examining her and removing at least one clot, she had agreed with Mrs McKeown that if the bleeding continued or if Rebecca's condition deteriorated, she would contact her.

She told the jury she had just told the other two GPs on duty what had happened when she received a message to call Mrs McKeown. As a result of that, arrangements were made for an ambulance to take Rebecca to hospital.

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph