Sunday 21 January 2018

'This is not a criminal trial' - inquest into death of baby girl with head injuries will focus on doctors' evidence, court hears

Caragh Walsh
Caragh Walsh

David Young

An inquest for a baby girl will not hear from all the witnesses who testified at a criminal trial that saw her father acquitted of murder, a coroner has said.

The inquest examining three-month-old Caragh Walsh's death from head injuries in 2014 will mainly focus on the oral evidence of doctors who treated her, a preliminary hearing in Belfast was told.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said the inquest proceedings would have access to the transcript of Christopher O'Neill's trial and could refer to other witness evidence during the course of the inquest.

As well as medics, Caragh's mother Tammy Louise Walsh will also give evidence during the proceedings, but it was not confirmed during Thursday's hearing whether Mr O'Neill will take to the witness box.

Christopher O’Neill was acquitted of murdering his baby daughter Caragh Walsh
Christopher O’Neill was acquitted of murdering his baby daughter Caragh Walsh

Mr McCrisken stressed that the inquest was a fact-finding exercise and served a different purpose to criminal proceedings.

"This is an inquest and not a criminal trial," he told lawyers at Belfast Coroners' Court.

In February 2017, a jury found Mr O'Neill, from Whiterock Road in Belfast, not guilty of murdering his baby daughter.

He has always vehemently denied he would have done anything to hurt his child.

In February 2014, Caragh was rushed from her Glasvey home in Twinbrook in west Belfast to hospital with head injuries. She died there two days later.

Her inquest is due to start on April 4 and last for one week.

Press Association

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