Jury to deliberate today on childminder

The jury will begin deliberating today in the trial of a childminder charged with assaulting a 10-month-old baby. Registered child-minder Sandra Higgins, aged 34, is alleged to have caused the injuries to the baby girl she was minding at her home.

Jury to deliberate today on childminder

Ms Higgins of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Cavan town, Co Cavan, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby on March 28, 2012.

The trial has heard evidence that the child was fine that morning and during the day. Around 5pm Ms Higgins brought her to Cavan General Hospital where she presented with a brain bleed, detached retina and fractured ribs. She had seizures for over five days.

The prosecution alleges the baby’s symptoms were consistent with violent shaking. Doctors who treated the baby said it was highly likely the injuries happened while she was in the care of Ms Higgins and that the injuries were non-accidental. Expert witnesses for the defence said the evidence was more suggestive of a head trauma and could have been the reactivation of an old injury.

On day six of the trial Judge Patricia Ryan told the jury that their verdict should not be based on sympathy for the child or her parents or for the accused. She said they must use their common sense when looking at the evidence in the case.

Judge Ryan will finish charging the jury this morning before sending it out to begin deliberations.

In his closing speech Sean Gillane, prosecuting, told the jury it should “stress test” the evidence of two expert defence witnesses. He said they shared a fixed view about shaken baby syndrome, which was contrary to all the medical literature.

He said the evidence was that the child was a perfectly normal baby up to the time before the alleged assault.

“She was bubbly, she was babbly, she was playful. She was developing in every single respect you might expect,” counsel said.

Remy Farrell, defending, said that it is accepted that the injuries suffered by the child were non-accidental.

“The old injuries are wholly consistent with some trauma. It’s blindingly obvious whatever event occurred weeks before could have caused a subdural haemorrhage,” he said.

He told the jury there was not a “screed of evidence” to support the “subtle implication” made by the prosecution that Ms Higgins had caused these older injuries such as finger tip bruises and fractured ribs.

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