Baby's haemorrhages and brain trauma 'consistent with non-accidental injury'

The trial of a man accused of murdering his ex-fiancée’s baby has heard that the pattern of haemorrhages in the child’s eyes in conjunction with brain trauma was “consistent with non-accidental injury.”

Philip Doyle (aged 34) of Tinakilly, Aughrim, Co Wicklow has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering three-and-a-half-month-old Ross Murphy at an address Creagh Demesne, Gorey, Co Wexford on April 5, 2005.

Consultant pathologist Dr Susan Kennedy told Mr Paul Carroll BL prosecuting she was contacted by the State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy, who asked her to examine the baby’s eyes.

Dr Kennedy told the court there were extensive retinal haemorrhages in both of the infant’s eyes.

She gave an opinion that the pattern of retinal haemorrhages in conjunction with brain trauma was consistent with non-accidental injury. She agreed with Mr Carroll she had also referred to shaken baby syndrome.

Under cross-examination by Mr Giollaiosa O’ Lideadha SC defending, she agreed that she had not read the report of neuropathologist Dr Michael Farrell who said it was entirely possible the injuries could have occurred in a fall with the child in the adult’s arms.

Dr Kennedy also agreed that the term ‘shaken baby syndrome’ is not meant to mean that it is caused by shaking, because the mechanism is not known.

She also said severe retinal haemorrhages do not occur with a simple fall but she agreed that she could not say if that would happen with a complex fall without the assistance of a biomechanical specialist.

In a statement to gardaí on April 27, 2005 the accused said that he tripped on the corner of a mat and turned sideways, twisting as he fell on a timber floor with the child in his arms.

The court has heard the baby was initially taken to Wexford General Hospital on March 31, 2005 because he was ‘lifeless’ and getting sick on the bed.

The baby was kept in for observation because of a rash on his neck and released on Sunday April 3 but returned to the hospital that evening in cardiac arrest.

He was rushed to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin in the early hours of the next morning but died the next day.

The trial continues before a jury of six men and five women on Friday presided over by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy who discharged one juror after telling him he was "not needed to serve further".

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