The mother of a murdered toddler has wept in court as a video recording of her daughter dancing three days before she died was played to the jury.
Rachael Martin cried openly in the dock as the footage of 15-month-old Millie at her grandmother’s house was shown in Dungannon Crown Court.
Martin, from Main Street, Kesh, denies wilfullly neglecting and allowing her young daughter’s death. Behind Martin in the public gallery, her clearly distressed mother, Margaret Graham, also fought back tears.
Others in the public gallery could not bring themselves to watch, and sat with their heads bowed, as Millie (below) danced to a ring tone of A Galway Girl played on her grandmother’s mobile phone. The video clip was filmed by Martin, whose 33-year-old former partner Barry Michael McCarney, of Woodview Crescent, Trillick, denies murdering the toddler and sexually and physically abusing her.
Yesterday, Martin’s step-grandfather Noel Graham described stepdaughter Rachael Martin as being “an exceptionally good mum'', who gave him absolutely no concern regarding her parenting skills.
He also told Martin's defence QC John McCrudden that ''Rachael impressed me as a very good mother at all times''.
Later Northern Ireland State Pathologist Professor Jack Crane told the court of finding multiple injuries on Millie’s body, including a 25cm bruise from an injury to the back of her head which ultimately caused her death.
This injury, he claimed, had been caused “by blunt force trauma to the back of the head, possibly a wall or the floor ... most likely by the head being impacted on a hard surface,” rather than a blow to her head. The professor further claimed the injury could not be explained away simply by Millie falling backwards and hitting her head. The more realistic explanation was that she was being held “when her head was impacted on the hard surface”.
Prof Crane added later that Millie had also been sexually assaulted shortly before her death.
“This child died as a result of a serious head injury inflicted shortly before her admission to hospital. She had also recently been sexually assaulted ... and bruising to her abdomen and bowel were probably caused by her having been prodded or punched”.
A consultant neuro-pathologist also told the court yesterday that the injury to the back of Millie's head was “fatal” from the moment it was struck, setting off a chain of events which were irreversible.
Dr Brian Herron said the head injury caused the brain to swell. This resulted in the section of the brain dealing with basic functions such as breathing, swallowing and heart rate, to be crushed. The trial continues.