West Belfast father 'fractured baby's skull'

Belfast Crown Court The 25-year-old father appeared before Belfast Crown Court

A 25-year-old father allegedly fractured his baby daughter's skull and caused extensive injuries to her face, Belfast Crown Court has been told.

The west Belfast man, who cannot be named to protect the child's identity, is charged with causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) and GBH with intent.

The court heard the baby's mother found the child with two black eyes, a bloody nose and extensive facial bruising.

The attack is alleged to have happened on 3 November 2010.

The jury was told that when the baby's mother left the house for a short time, her daughter was "perfectly fine" and being put down for a nap by her father.

However, the court heard she found the child injured when she returned 20 minutes later and a later CT scan showed a suspected fracture to the right side of her skull.

Before the case was opened, the judge warned the jury they would be seeing photographs of the baby's injuries but reminded them that feelings of sympathy and prejudice had no place in a court of law.

That warning was repeated by prosecuting lawyer Kate McKay as she recounted to the jury how, when she saw the state of her daughter, her mother immediately lifted her and took the baby to her own mother's house and then to hospital.

It was whilst there, she said, that the mother told staff to contact the police to have her partner arrested.

Explanation

Mrs McKay told the court that doctors who had examined the baby girl stated that her injuries were "non-accidental" and had been caused by "blunt force impact to the face and head" of the infant.

Arrested and interviewed, the 25-year-old said the only possible explanation he had was that as he was carrying his daughter upstairs to bed, her head accidentally hit the wall.

He told police that as he was putting her down on the bed, the bottle he was carrying by the teet between his teeth, dropped and hit his daughter in the face.

However Mrs McKay told the jury that during the trial they would hear from a paedatric expert who would give the view that in her opinion, "these two strikes to the baby's head would not at all be a sufficient explanation for the injuries".

"The medical evidence does not tally up with the version of events which the defendant gave," declared the lawyer, adding it is such evidence that "will assure you and make you sure to the requisite standard that the injuries were inflicted by this defendant".

Later the baby's mother told the jury how she had a "freak attack" and was hysterical when she saw her daughter's face.

She told the court that her former partner told her to "stop freaking out, stop freaking out".

On arrival at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, she described how usually, patients have to give their name but that this time, "I just barged my way in and told the doctors to get the police".

Asked by Mrs McKay what state her daughter was in when she last saw her before she was left in the care of her father for 20 minutes, she told the lawyer "she was fine...there was no marks on her".

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