| 13.4°C Dublin

Shell-shocked family relives final days of happy little boy

BABY Ross Murphy was a normal, healthy, happy, little boy.

At his eight-week check-up, a public health nurse conducted a full examination of him and noted he was "thriving".

On the day it is alleged that he was shaken to death, three-and-a-half month old Ross, his mother Leona Murphy and her boyfriend Philip Doyle visited Ms Murphy's family in Gorey, Co Wexford, and had lunch with them.

Doyle himself later told gardai that Ross was happy, "smiling".

Ms Murphy went out around 6pm on April 3, 2005 to get a DVD. Soon afterwards she got a call from Doyle saying to come home quickly, there was something wrong with Ross.

She returned home, called the emergency services and minutes later, Ross was rushed in an ambulance to Wexford General Hospital. He was limp and lifeless.

He was later transferred to Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin where he died on April 5, 2005.

What happened in those few minutes to cause the baby's death?

Philip Doyle had been minding the infant. He claims Ross's death was an accident, that he'd tripped on a mat while holding him and they fell onto the wooden floor. He later denied that he'd shaken the child.

Doyle, of Tinakilly, Aughrim in Co Wicklow, now stands accused of murdering Ross, a charge he denies.

The Central Criminal Court heard Doyle had been in a relationship with the baby's mother since she was seven months pregnant.


Dressed smartly in a dark grey suit, white shirt and grey and purple stripped tie, Doyle (34) sat in the dock with his head bowed as prosecutor Tom O'Connell outlined the case against him.

At times, he took notes of the prosecution's opening statement. Other times he stared into space, listening intently to what was being alleged against him. His family were seated quietly together at the back of the court.

Ross Murphy's family sat together in a row at the front of the courtroom looking slightly shell-shocked as Mr O'Connell relived the last days of the infant's life.

He said Ross was born on December 10, 2004 and was a normal, healthy child. The court heard a public health nurse examined Ross in January 2005 and had no concerns about his welfare.

In March 2005, Ms Murphy and Doyle brought the baby to the doctor as he had a dry cough. Mr O'Connell said Ross was examined and the doctor found there was "not a mark on the child".

He then outlined an incident on March 31, 2005 where Doyle took the baby upstairs and put him in his cot. He went up three times, each time for a few minutes, to check on the baby.

He then called Ms Murphy to come upstairs and when she picked Ross up he was lifeless in her arms but was revived with cold water.

The local doctor was contacted and he suggested taking the baby to Wexford General Hospital. The infant remained in hospital for four days until he was discharged on the afternoon of April 3, 2005.

At 6pm that evening, Ms Murphy went out for a DVD, leaving Doyle alone with the child and a second incident occurred which ultimately led to the baby's death.

The jury was then told the cause of death was head trauma but the prosecution cannot prove the mechanism by which it was caused.

The trial continues.