Saturday 21 April 2018

Baby murder trial: What happened to Joshua emerged in emergency call and forensics

Father convicted of murdering his six-month-old son by forcing tissues down his throat

John Tighe (pictured left) has been found guilty of murdering his infant son. Right: Mother of six-and-a-half-month old Joshua Sussbier Tighe
John Tighe (pictured left) has been found guilty of murdering his infant son. Right: Mother of six-and-a-half-month old Joshua Sussbier Tighe

Eoin Reynolds

What happened to baby Joshua emerged in an emergency call made by his father John Tighe.

During the call, on June 1, 2013, Tighe (40) asked for help as his baby was choking and had "gone a bit blue". He said he had been changing the baby's nappy, went to the toilet, and when he returned the baby was choking.

Nurses told him to hit, slap and tap the baby's back and front, and attempt to push the obstruction out by pressing below the baby's sternum. When Tighe said he could see the blockage, they told him to grab it and pull it out. But he told them he couldn't and that the baby was not breathing. By the time a doctor arrived, 23 minutes after Tighe made the call, Joshua was dead.

The call was played several times to the jury who could hear Joshua's strained breathing at the start of the call which later faded out.

Tighe, from Lavallyroe, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, was yesterday convicted of murdering his six-month-old son by forcing tissues down his throat. The baby's mother, Natasha Sussbier, said during her statement that she can't get the sound of her son taking his last breaths out of her head.

The court heard details of how Tighe met Ms Sussbier in 2011, when she was 17. He said he sent 1,500 texts a week to her before she moved in with him in 2012.

Ms Sussbier soon got pregnant and their baby Joshua was born in November of that year. He was a healthy boy and Tighe told gardaí that he and Natasha were "delighted".

Tighe said that their relationship soon became strained. Ms Sussbier moved out only a few months after the birth. They agreed to share custody of Joshua.

On May 31, 2013, Ms Sussbier and her new boyfriend posted a message to Facebook stating they were in a relationship. Tighe collected Joshua from Ms Sussbier that evening and the following afternoon the child choked to death.

The prosecution suggested that the Facebook message formed the background to the assault on Joshua, but Tighe told gardaí he knew about Ms Sussbier's new relationship.

What exactly happened to Joshua was gleaned from the emergency call made by Tighe along with statements he made to gardaí and through forensic and post-mortem examinations.

Former deputy State pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber carried out the post-mortem and found an egg-shaped wad of tissue in the child's pharynx. Forensic scientist Dr Bridget Fleming found that the wad consisted of two pieces of tissue paper, from two different tissue boxes.

Paediatricians Dr Hilary Stokes and Dr Peter Keenan told the court that a child Joshua's age could not have formed the wad.

Irish Independent

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