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Millie was blinded by blow to the head, murder trial is told

Millie Martin suffered a catalogue of serious injuries in the weeks leading up to her death from a head injury — including a forceful blow to the stomach, a court has been told.

The trial surrounding the 15-month-old girl’s death has heard details of severe injuries inflicted on the child, including how her head injury left her instantly blind and a kick or punch to the abdomen also caused potentially fatal damage.

Dungannon Crown Court heard from a number of medical experts who detailed the injuries suffered by the Enniskillen child before her death in December 2009.

Barry Michael McCarney (33), from Woodview Crescent, Trillick, Co Tyrone, is on trial accused of murdering and sexually assaulting Millie.

Her mother, Rachael Martin (27), from Main Street, Kesh, is accused of wilful neglect and allowing the little girl’s death.

The toddler died on December 11, 2009, a day after she was admitted to hospital in Enniskillen with a serious head injury.

They both deny the charges.

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The court was told yesterday that Millie had suffered a blow to the stomach which could have proved fatal on its own.

Consultant paediatric radiologist Dr Gail Thornbury said this severe injury to Millie's abdomen had caused “irreversible damage” to her bowel.

Dr Thornbury said as a result the bowel had lost its blood supply, which would have caused the organ to die within a period of six to eight hours.

She said that normally she would have expected to find such injuries as a direct result of road traffic or other such accidents.

Under cross-examination, Dr Thornbury agreed that the injury could have been caused by “someone deliberately punching or kicking” the youngster in the stomach.

The doctor said in the absence of any other fatal injury suffered by baby Millie, the injury to her bowel, if allowed to remain untreated, would have proved fatal.

Dr Thornbury also told the court of finding up to 21 healing or healed fractures, some of which she estimated to have been only 10 days old, while others were between two and four weeks old.

Yesterday, a top eye specialist had revealed that Millie would have been blinded by the head injury which eventually caused her death from brain damage.

Dr John McCarthy, a specialist ophthalmic ocular pathologist, claimed the head injuries were non-accidental and in his experience could only have been caused by “significant head trauma”.

The former Home Office doctor said that Millie would have lost her vision “immediately” after the blow to her head.

However, under cross-examination by defence QC Elis McDermott, acting for McCarney, Dr McCarthy agreed that in his report, he estimated the maximum time, prior to death, that the eye injury could have been caused was between 48 and 72 hours.

Dr McCarthy said evidence of “extensive” bleeding on Millie’s retina had been found.

He further claimed that instances of eye trauma were normally unique to those resulting from head trauma, and that the injuries to Millie's eyes were “both significant, extensive and fresh”.

A blow to the head, he agreed, could have caused such injuries, and because of the onslaught of bleeding in the eyes, “there would have been rapid, if not immediate, loss of vision”.

Dr McCarthy also reported had Millie survived, such was the damage caused to her eyes, the little girl would have been left blind.

The trial continues.

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