Thursday 25 May 2017

Childminder trial: Jury told that court will now accept majority verdict

Sandra Higgins pleads not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby, pictured outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday (Courtpix)
Sandra Higgins pleads not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby, pictured outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday (Courtpix)

Declan Brennan

The jury in the trial of a child-minder charged with assaulting a ten-month-old baby have been told they can now return a verdict that ten or more of them agree with.

Registered child-minder Sandra Higgins (34) 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 jury of eight men and four women had deliberated for almost five hours by eleven o'clock this morning. They had been instructed to return a unanimous verdict.

Judge Patricia Ryan asked the jury to resume it's deliberations and to try to come to a unanimous verdict but she advised it that the court could now accept a majority verdict. A majority verdict is one on which at least ten or more of them agree.

The jury have asked a number of question. They have asked to hear evidence of the vital signs as given by the consultant paediatrician who treated the child and from a UK neuropathologist called by the defence.

The foreman also asked the court to give another definition of the term “reckless”.

Judge Ryan told the jury: “A person is reckless when they perceive the risk of that harm and ignore same by culpably proceeding with the action. So they fly in the face of reality”.

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

The prosecution alleges the baby's symptoms were consistent with a violent shaking.

Doctors who treated the baby girl said it was highly likely that the injuries to the child 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 re-activation of an old injury.

The accused told gardai that she treated the baby as one of her own children and never assaulted her.

Judge Ryan has previously told the jury that it's 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.

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News