A judge has told the jury in the trial of a man accused of killing his ex-fiancée’s baby seven years ago, to approach the case "without hostility or prejudice".
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 3 Creagh Demesne, Gorey, Co. Wexford on April 5, 2005.
But the jury were told that as a result of a ruling the charge is now one of manslaughter and not murder.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told the jury the case started with a charge of murder but to acquit Mr Doyle of that and to consider manslaughter.
He told the members of the jury to approach the case coldly and “without hostility or prejudice”.
He said the case is relatively straightforward - that the prosecution alleges the injury was inflicted on the baby causing his death.
Mr Justice McCarthy told them the defence says it was an accident - in which case “it could not be a crime”, he said.
The judge said for manslaughter the accused must have inflicted injury on the deceased which caused his death and that the death was unlawful.
He said the mental element that the prosecution must prove is an intention to cause harm.
Mr Justice McCarthy also told the jury it was not necessary for the prosecution to prove a motive.
Mr Doyle was minding the baby at the home he shared with the child’s mother Leona Murphy while she went out to get a DVD on April 3, 2005.
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.
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 court heard the accused changed from an account he gave in a witness statement earlier in the month saying the baby did not fall on that evening to then telling gardaí in an interview he fell while holding the infant.
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy previously told the court she concluded the baby died from brain trauma from which he would not have recovered.
Prof. Cassidy said such trauma would not be expected to occur in a not-yet-mobile child without some explanation and there was deep bruising consistent with the trunk being firmly gripped and that haemorrhages inside the eyes “highly suggested a shaking incident.”
Mr Giollaiosa O’ Lideadha SC defending told the jury in his closing speech that the most likely cause of death was a fall.
He said that neuropathologist Professor Michael Farrell had said in evidence that it was entirely possible the injuries could have been caused by a fall in an adult’s arms.
Mr Justice McCarthy will resume charging the jury of six men and five women on Monday.