Belfast Telegraph

Young Northern Ireland child allegedly abused by parents may be unable to walk or talk, court hears

Amanda and Christopher Fulton
Amanda and Christopher Fulton

By Alan Erwin

A very young child who allegedly sustained serious physical injuries at the hands of its parents may be left unable to walk or talk, the High Court heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutors also said the child is blind and could have permanent brain damage.

Further details emerged as Amanda Fulton (31) and her 30-year-old husband Christopher Fulton denied responsibility for any harm.

The couple, from Rockfield Gardens in Mosside, Co Antrim, are jointly charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent, two counts of child cruelty involving different children, and of causing or allowing a child to suffer serious physical harm.

But a defence lawyer suggested the injuries might instead be due to a family condition of haemophilia.

Due to a court order the names and ages of the alleged victims cannot be published.

Both accused were arrested after their young child was taken to a GP and then transferred for emergency hospital treatment on November 7.

The child had suffered a fractured skull, laceration to its liver and at least four fractured ribs.

Some of the injuries were healing, which, the prosecution contended, pointed to them having been sustained during more than one isolated incident.

Crown lawyer Andrew Brownlie said the child is no longer on life support, but is currently blind and feared to have permanent brain damage.

The boarded up home of the Fulton family in Mosside, Co Antrim
The boarded up home of the Fulton family in Mosside, Co Antrim

"The indication is (the child) won't be able to walk or talk," counsel disclosed.

Opposing the parents' applications for bail, Mr Brownlie claimed neither of them could offer an explanation for how the injuries occurred.

It was confirmed that loyalist paramilitary threats have been issued against both accused.

Their home has also been boarded up due to the strength of public feeling.

Declan Quinn, defending, claimed there has been a "rush to judgment" in the case, resulting in his clients being subjected to offensive online commentary and threats.

Amanda Fulton has received continual abuse in custody, where she is confined to her cell and had urine poured at the door, he contended.

During submissions the barrister raised a family history of haemophilia as a potential cause of the child's injuries.

"The applicants themselves are at a complete and utter loss to explain what has occurred," Mr Quinn added.

"These parents are living a waking nightmare."

Adjourning the bail applications, Mr Justice McAlinden requested more information and a possible address which would provide protection from any paramilitary threats.

The judge also stated: "It always amuses and depresses me at the same time that these organisations responsible for the influx of drugs, punishment beatings and murders in various communities can assume the role of moral guardian of the community in which they reside, and issue threats of this nature towards persons who are perceived to be engaged in behaviour which is contrary to the fundamental norms of society.

"It's very rich of these individuals to come forward and place other individuals in society under threat."

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