A Wicklow man who has been found guilty of killing his ex-fiancée’s three-and-a- half month old baby seven years ago has been sentenced to 11 years.
Philip Doyle, aged 34, of Tinakilly, Aughrim, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Ross Murphy at 3 Creagh Demesne, Gorey, Co Wexford, on Apr 5, 2005.
But following a court ruling during the four-week trial, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy directed the jury to acquit Doyle of murder and to consider a verdict of manslaughter, as he ruled the prosecution had not made a case that the jury could find, without reasonable doubt, that Doyle murdered, which is an intention to kill or cause serious harm.
The jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of manslaughter after just over three hours of deliberation after the trial.
Mr Justice McCarthy said “it was a serious case of assault manslaughter on a child. Significant violence was inflicted over a period of time and the deceased was a helpless child”.
“The accused persisted in lying in the circumstances of the injuries suffered [by Ross], and the lies aggravate this homicide in many ways,” he continued.
After the term was handed down, Adele Murphy, sister of Ross’s mother Leona, outlined the anguish the family has been through.
“There are no words to describe the hurt and pain that we as a family feel for the loss of baby Ross,” said Ms Murphy.
“For the last seven years we have been grieving the death of Ross — not knowing how or why he died.
“Now knowing of the injuries he received, and how tragic and painful his last days with us were, we find ourselves grieving all over again for our son, grandson, nephew and cousin. Our lives will never be the same.
“We will never lose the ache in our hearts or the feeling of loss. Nothing or no one will ever replace our little baby angel Ross.
“We are happy with the sentence. We got the closure we were waiting for.”
Last week, during the sentencing hearing, Det Gda Joe Sullivan said Doyle was minding Ross at the home he shared with Ms Murphy while she went out to get a DVD on Apr 3, 2005.
Ross was initially taken to Wexford General Hospital on Mar 31, 2005, because he was “lifeless” and getting sick on the bed.
He was kept in for observation because of a rash on his neck and released on Apr 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 day but died the following day of brain trauma.
Doyle started dating Ms Murphy when she was seven months’ pregnant. Ross was born in Dec 2004 and Doyle asked for his name to be put on the birth certificate as the father.
When Ms Murphy refused, he contacted the births registry in Waterford, which told him it could not be done. The couple began living together in Jan 2005, and got engaged.
The defence said the death was an accident and that Doyle fell on a wooden floor while holding Ross.
The prosecution said Doyle’s defence was based on a lie, that the injuries d were inflicted by Doyle and caused Ross’s death.
State pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy she concluded Ross 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.
Mr Justice McCarthy said, in sentencing Doyle to 11 years, there was no mitigating factor and the term is not an “exercise in ven-geance” but the crime was in the 10-12 year category.