Monday 22 January 2018

Baby Ross 'in arms of angels' as ex-fiance guilty of killing

Leona Murphy leaving court
Leona Murphy leaving court yesterday
Philip Doyle arriving at the Central Criminal Court on Monday
Ross Murphy

Niamh O'Donoghue, Colm Kelpie and Louise Hogan

SHE had left her baby with the man she loved, trusted and was planning to wed.

Yet when Leona Murphy returned home after going out to get a DVD she discovered her then fiance Philip Doyle trying to revive the baby, who was naked, silent and blue-ish around the lips.

The three-and-a-half-month-old baby, Ross Murphy, was rushed to hospital on the evening of Sunday, April 3, 2005, but died two days later from brain trauma.

Yesterday, Doyle (34), who has two children from a previous relationship, was found guilty of the manslaughter of baby Ross seven years ago.

Ross was Ms Murphy's first-born child from a previous relationship.

After the four-week trial, the family of Ms Murphy (28), from Gorey, Co Wexford, hugged each other and cried as the jury's verdict was read out.

Ms Murphy's sister Adele -- Ross's aunt -- said the family was glad justice had been served.

"There are no winners here today; we still walk away without our little baby boy but it is good to finally get justice for him," she said.

"We love and will always miss Ross and it is heartbreaking he's not with us, even more heartbreaking now knowing the injuries he received.

"We are a strong family unit and together we will find our way back to normality. We find peace knowing that he is resting safe and peacefully in the arms of God and his angels."

Ms Murphy, who is now piecing her life back together, is in a new relationship with Shay Redmond and is expecting her third child on June 10.

The sentencing of Doyle was adjourned to July 2 to allow for her to be present after the birth and to give her time to prepare a victim impact statement.

Doyle, a painter and decorator, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court of the murder of the baby at their home at Creagh Demesne, Gorey, on April 5, 2005.


Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy had last week directed the jury to acquit him of murder and to consider a verdict of manslaughter.

Gardai moved to charge Doyle a number of years after the baby's death and he was extradited from Amsterdam where he had moved for work.

On the opening day of the trial last month, prosecutor Tom O'Connell told the jury the death was not accidental and that they would hear evidence the injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

But Doyle denied that he had lost his temper and had shaken the child. The defence had argued the death was an accident and that Doyle fell on the wooden floor of the living room while holding the baby.

Ms Murphy, then aged 21, had started going out with Doyle when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant and the couple had moved in together in January 2005, after baby Ross was born, and became engaged.

Ms Murphy told the Central Criminal Court that on the evening of March 31, 2005, Doyle took Ross up to bed. The baby started to get sick and appeared to have a rash, the court heard.

Ms Murphy was called up and found the child "lifeless" with Doyle. He threw water over the infant to revive him and he was rushed to hospital, where he spent four days until April 3.

After the baby returned home, Ms Murphy went out to get a DVD, leaving the baby in Doyle's care. She rang Doyle three times while out but the phone rang out. He called her back to tell her to come home as the baby was sick again.

When she arrived home Ross was lying on the coffee table with no clothes on him and Doyle was giving him mouth to mouth, the court heard.

He was rushed to Wexford General Hospital by ambulance, suffering a cardiac arrest, and died two days later.

In garda interviews, Doyle, of Tinakilly, Aughrim, Co Wicklow, said he didn't let the baby fall and that the baby had been swinging his head from side to side and vomiting.

Three weeks later he changed his story, telling gardai he fell with the child in his arms.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told the court that Ross had died from brain trauma. She described deep bruising on his body, consistent with being firmly gripped and that haemorrhages inside the eyes highly suggested a shaking incident.

Irish Independent

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