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Cruelty charges: Child is blind and 'may never walk'

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image captionThe couple face child cruelty charges relating to two children

A very young child whose parents are accused of inflicting serious physical injuries may be left unable to walk or talk, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said the child is blind and could have permanent brain damage.

Details emerged as Amanda Fulton, 31, and her husband, Christopher Fulton, 30, denied child cruelty charges in court on Wednesday.

However, a defence lawyer argued the injuries may be down to haemophilia which runs in the family.

The couple from Rockfield Gardens, Mosside, County Antrim, are jointly charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

They face two counts of child cruelty involving separate children.

They are also charged with causing or allowing a child to suffer serious physical harm.

Under a court order, the names and ages of the alleged victims cannot be published.

Both accused were arrested after their child was taken to a GP and then transferred for emergency hospital treatment on 7 November.

The child had suffered a fractured skull, laceration to the liver and at least four fractured ribs.

Some of the injuries were healing which, the prosecution argued, pointed to more than one isolated incident.

'Threatened'

A Crown lawyer said the child was no longer on life support, but is currently blind and may have permanent brain damage.

"The indication is (the child) won't be able to walk or talk," he said.

Opposing the parents' application for bail, the lawyer said neither of them could offer an explanation for how the injuries occurred.

The couple have been threatened by loyalist paramilitaries and their home has now been boarded up due to the strength of public feeling in the area.

The couple's defence lawyer said there had been a "rush to judgment" and his clients had been subjected to offensive online commentary and threats.

He said that in prison, Amanda Fulton was confined to her cell and had urine poured at the door.

The defence lawyer said that a family history of haemophilia could explain the child's injuries.

"The applicants themselves are at a complete and utter loss to explain what has occurred," he said.

"These parents are living a waking nightmare."

Adjourning the bail applications, the judge requested more information and asked for a possible address where they might be protected from paramilitary threat.