Thursday 19 September 2019

Man accused of raping baby claims he may have hit its head off wall

Stock photo
Stock photo

Alan Erwin

A man accused of raping and causing brain injuries to a baby claimed he may have unintentionally hit the child's head off a wall while "tired and frustrated", the High Court in Belfast heard yesterday.

The 25-year-old defendant, who cannot be identified, denies sexually assaulting the 12-day-old infant in Co Down.

But prosecutors argued the injuries inflicted, including broken ribs and thigh bones, were so severe that they could not have been accidental.

A judge was also told police discovered extreme pornographic material and indecent images of children on a phone linked to the accused.

Refusing bail, Mr Justice McAlinden ruled it would be "wholly inappropriate" to release him from custody.

The man faces charges of grievous bodily harm with intent and sexual assault of a child on September 29.

Crown counsel Samuel Magee said police were alerted after the baby was brought to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry with unexplained injuries.

The child had sustained a brain haemorrhage, broken ribs and thigh bones, traumatic bruising and was bleeding when admitted. Medical professionals believe the fractures may have been due to the use of significant force, such as through the tugging or twisting of limbs, the court heard.

A consultant paediatrician provided an opinion that the baby had been sexually assaulted, according to Mr Magee. He said the accused told police of attempts to wind the child while in his care.

The man gave no explanation for the bruising, and categorically denies any sexual assault. "The only explanation he proffered was that he was tired and frustrated, and may have hit the baby's head on the wall as he was going downstairs," the barrister said.

Despite the baby's condition improving, Mr Magee was cautious about the prognosis. "The future for this child is significantly unknown," he said.

Mr Justice McAlinden was also told of a potential risk to the accused's own safety.

Ruling that the accused must remain in custody, Mr Justice McAlinden also cited the potential risks of further offending and interference with witnesses.

Irish Independent

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