Northern Ireland

Neighbour testifies at Newtownabbey baby murder trial

A neighbour of a Newtownabbey man accused of murdering his infant son has been giving evidence at his trial.

Rachel Castles told Belfast Crown Court she heard Ryan John Leslie screaming at his crying child "as if he had just lost it".

The 26-year-old from Ballyvessey Green, denies the murder of his son Cameron, claiming he "showed him nothing but love and devotion".

The child died in September 2008, aged just 14 weeks.

Mrs Castles, who lived in the flat below Mr Leslie's, said the walls were wafer thin and that she could hear everything going on inside and had complained to the Housing Executive about it.

She told prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy that the day before baby Cameron was rushed to hospital she had heard the infant continually crying for between 30 to 45 minutes.

Mrs Castles claimed she also heard Leslie, whom she knew as 'Les', constantly "shouting ...screaming" at his son.

She said it appeared to her that Leslie was "stressed out ... as if he had just lost it" and that on another occasion, he seemed to have screamed out, "ahhhh...".

Mrs Castles said that after the child stopped crying she heard nothing more from the flat and claimed that later that evening had seen Leslie leaving the flat with his kit bag and thought he was going to football training.

She said that she had even said to her husband Robert, that Cameron's mother, Sheree, must have come and collected the baby.

Heard nothing more

Later under cross examination from defence QC John Orr, Mrs Castle said the only other noises she heard coming from the flat was at "about nine and the washing machine going on".

She also agreed that she told police that she "felt it strange" that she heard nothing more.

She further agreed she also told police she could not remember which night she had seen Leslie go out, whether it was the Tuesday or Wednesday night.

Mrs Castles agreed that she had told police something similar about a friend of Leslie's calling to the flat that same week, and that when she said it appeared Leslie 'lost it', she was only "surmising" he had done so.

Mrs Castles told the court that she had also heard Leslie and Cameron's mother, Sheree, often arguing in the flat upstairs and on one occasion had seen her "pulling him ...she was giving off to Les".

She said that shortly after that they split up, but later when Sheree visited the flat she "took it for granted the couple were back together, that they had made up".

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