Friday 15 November 2019

Trial of childminder collapses for third time

Sandra Higgins. Photo: Collins Courts
Sandra Higgins. Photo: Collins Courts

Aoife Nic Ardghail

The third re-trial of a Cavan childminder accused of causing serious harm to a baby has collapsed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Sandra Higgins (37), of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Co Cavan, had pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to a baby girl at the accused's home on March 28, 2012. The State's case is that the baby's injuries, including bruising and swelling on her head and face, bleeding on the brain and detached retinas, were inflicted by Ms Higgins.

Yesterday Judge Pauline Codd explained an issue arose during legal argument in the absence of the jury. Through "no wilful action" by gardaí or anybody else, email communications between expert witnesses were not passed on to the defence. The judge said as a result she was satisfied there was a reasonable doubt the accused could not get a fair trial.

She said generally there is no difficulty with expert witnesses contacting each other, so long as the defence knows about it.

The judge said the defence is entitled to have all information beforehand. The defence team was "potentially hamstrung" and impeded in properly preparing their cross-examination.

It was up to the DPP to decide whether to bring the case to trial again.

The judge remanded Ms Higgins on continuing bail for a mention date in another court in July.

Irish Independent

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