Tuesday 16 January 2018

Baby was injured while she was with minder, court told

Sandra Higgins: on trial
Sandra Higgins: on trial

Declan Brennan

A consultant paediatrician has told the trial of a childminder accused of assaulting a baby that it wasn't reasonable to suggest brain injuries suffered by the baby happened before she was left with her childminder.

Registered childminder Sandra Higgins (34) is alleged to have caused the injuries to the 10-month-old baby she was minding at her home by shaking the child.

Ms 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.

On the third day of the trial, consultant paediatrician Dr Alan Finan said the baby's brain injuries could not reasonably have occurred before 9am on that day, prior to her being left by her mother with her childminder.

The court has heard the child was fine that morning and during the day. Around 5pm, Ms Higgins brought her to Cavan General Hospital, where she presented with active seizures, brain injuries and fractured ribs.

Dr Finan said: "In my professional view it would not be a reasonable suggestion that she could have been normal for seven hours with those injuries already being incurred. It would not be a reasonable proposal."

He told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that he found a suggestion that the injuries could have been caused accidentally to be unacceptable.

"That the combination of injuries could be caused accidentally would not be credible," he said.

He added that the injuries clearly indicated the baby had suffered non-accidental injury and that shaking injury was a likely explanation.

The court heard these conclusions were contained in a report provided by Dr Finan to investigating gardaí on April 11, 2012.

Under cross examination, Dr Finan agreed that in an earlier report, dated April 2, he stated that "precise dating of (the infant's) injuries is not possible at this time".

In the report he said this dating could be made upon further evaluation and medical imaging.

He denied a suggestion from Remy Farrell SC, defending, that he had changed his mind between the first and second reports.

"I didn't change my mind. I felt I wasn't in a position to complete a final report, I termed it an preliminary report," he said.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury of eight men and four women.

There is a court order prohibiting publication of the child's name.

Irish Independent

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