Wednesday 12 December 2018

Dad accused of murder pleaded for doctor to 'do something' with lifeless baby

John Tighe denies murder. Photo: Collins Courts
John Tighe denies murder. Photo: Collins Courts

Eoin Reynolds

A father accused of murdering his six-month-old son told the doctor who arrived first at the scene to "do something", a trial has heard.

Dr Diarmuid Murray added that, as soon as he arrived, he formed the opinion the baby was dead.

Dr Murray was giving evidence on day two of the trial of John Tighe (40), of Lavallyroe, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering his son Joshua Sussbier Tighe at his home on June 1, 2013. He is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Dr Murray told prosecuting counsel Paul Murray SC that he was on call on June 1, 2013 when a call came in at 12.53pm that help was urgently needed in Lavallyroe where a six-month-old baby was choking on a baby wipe.

He knew Lavallyroe well as it is within his catchment area and arrived there at about 1.10pm.

He jumped out of his car and ran up to the steps leading to the house when Mr Tighe came running out the door with the baby in his arms.

They both ran inside but Dr Murray said that as soon as he saw the baby he formed the impression he was dead.

He was flaccid and his lips were blue.

Inside the house, Mr Tighe placed the baby on the floor and knelt at his feet.

The doctor knelt at Joshua's head and put his index finger in the baby's mouth.

He could feel a tissue in the pharynx, immediately above and blocking the larynx. He tried but could not move it and he could not see it.

He said the effect of a piece of tissue lodged in this position would be asphyxiation and death within minutes.

Paramedics arrived and attached a defibrillator to Joshua's chest but the heart showed no signs of electrical activity and Dr Murray formally pronounced the death at 1.40pm.

He said he did not have any conversation with the accused other than to tell him his baby was dead.

Under cross-examination, Dr Murray told Mícheál O'Higgins SC that when he arrived and they knelt with baby Joshua in the house, Mr Tighe was "quite upset and was exhorting me: 'Do something'."

There was nothing he could do, he said.

The tissue was "lodged very tight" in the baby's throat, he said, and demonstrated with his index finger how he attempted to dislodge it.

He explained that he was able to get his finger down one side of it but could not dislodge it.

He agreed that this was similar to what Mr Tighe had said when talking to emergency services before Dr Murray arrived, that he could feel the tissue but couldn't move it.

The jury also heard yesterday from nurses Liz Watson and Aine Watts, who took the emergency call and tried to instruct Mr Tighe how to save the baby's life.

Ms Watts told Mr Murray that she formed the opinion that Mr Tighe wasn't following her instructions because when she asked him to hit the baby to dislodge the blockage she couldn't hear him doing it. Then when she asked him to take the baby to the door to wave down the doctor she didn't believe he took the baby with him.

The trial continues today in front of Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of nine women and three men.

Irish Independent

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