Belfast Telegraph

Pictured: Parents charged with cruelty offences after young child suffers brain injuries and may be blinded

Amanda and Christopher Fulton
Amanda and Christopher Fulton

The parents of a very young boy who suffered a fractured skull, bleed on the brain and lacerated liver have been charged with child cruelty offences.

Amanda Fulton (31) and her husband Christopher (30) were remanded in custody.

The very young child is thought to have long-term brain injuries and may be left permanently blind, a court heard.

Details of the horrific injuries sustained by the child emerged on Friday after a judge removed a blanket ban on reporting the case.

The order had been imposed earlier this week, when the pair appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court.

In a highly unusual move, the judge had been told by defence lawyers that the only way to secure his clients' safety was to completely ban all coverage of the case. It was supported by a police officer in court.

That unprecedented position was challenged by the Press and on Friday all restrictions were removed, with discretion urged in respect of the alleged victims.

Sign In

The boy was taken to hospital by his father on November 7.

He was initially placed on life-support, with his condition so poor that he could not be further examined for some time.

The infant was found to have a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.

Police outside the house in Rockfield Gardens.
Police outside the house in Rockfield Gardens.

His liver was lacerated and there were multiple rib fractures, some of which were healing, suggesting they occurred well before the admission to hospital.

Amanda and Christopher Fulton, from Rockfield Gardens, Mosside, Co Antrim, were arrested and stand charged with multiple offences including child cruelty.

There is evidence they are under a loyalist paramilitary threat.

The pair first appeared before Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday, when they were jointly accused of causing grievous bodily harm to the child on November 7.

Further charges relate to another child who was examined after concerns were raised over the infant's shocking injuries in hospital. The other child - a little girl - was found to have an abrasion below her eye and bruising to the back of her head.

The couple are accused of cruelty to this child and causing or allowing unnecessary suffering or injury.

A police officer said she believed the charges could be connected.

The judge then took the unusual step of placing a blanket ban on all media coverage of the case as the defence and police contended that there was significant risk to both of the accused.

However, he indicated he wanted to see evidence of threat and submissions would be taken from the Press.

The case returned on Friday, and, after consideration, the judge agreed to remove the ban, leaving identification to the discretion of the Press.

The horrific details of the case were outlined during unsuccessful bail applications for the accused, in which it was confirmed the infant remains very seriously ill but is now breathing on his own.

A defence lawyer queried if ambulance staff had been interviewed to ascertain if any injuries might have been caused during transfer of the critically ill infant to hospital.

The defence lawyer said the Fultons were "living every parent's worst nightmare", and were entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Bail was refused for both and the couple were remanded in custody to appear again by video-link next month.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph