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Mum's partner shook baby to death, jury told

A BABY boy who died after he suffered severe trauma to his head had injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, a jury has been told.

When three-and-a-half month old Ross Murphy arrived in an ambulance to hospital he wasn't breathing and had no pulse.

Philip Doyle (34), who was the partner of the baby's mother at the time, had been minding the infant. At first, he claimed the child's injuries were self-inflicted before saying they were accidentally caused.

He said he'd tripped on the corner of a mat in the sitting room while holding the baby, later denying that he'd shaken the child.

But the prosecution say the death was no accident, and the jury was told medical and post-mortem evidence will suggest Ross Murphy was gripped tightly, bruising his ribcage, and shaken.

Doyle, of Tinakilly, Aughrim, in Co Wicklow, has denied murdering his girlfriend's baby at their home at Creagh Demesne in Gorey, Co Wexford.

The court heard that Doyle had been in a relationship with the baby's mother Leona Murphy since she was seven months pregnant.

Opening the trial, Tom O'Connell, prosecuting, told the jury of seven men and five women that Ross Murphy suffered a massive brain injury and had no vital signs when rushed to hospital on the evening of April 3, 2005.

The prosecution claims the child was in Doyle's care at the couple's home when he sustained the injuries.

However, Philip Doyle and Leona Murphy at first told gardai they were together when Ross became suddenly ill.

It is claimed that Ms Murphy told Doyle to say they were together as she was afraid her mother would give out to her for leaving the child to go to the shops and get a DVD.

The couple kept up this pretence to gardai for three and a half weeks until Doyle finally admitted he was alone with the child.

The prosecution claims Doyle repeatedly lied to medics and gardai about what happened -- at first claiming Ross's injuries were self-inflicted before saying they were accidentally caused.

Doyle claimed he had come back from making a cup of tea to find the infant had been sick and was very still on a blanket on the sitting-room floor.

He then changed his story three weeks afterwards, telling gardai he had picked Ross off the floor when he got sick, tripped on the corner of a mat and hit the wooden floor while holding the baby.

Mr O'Connell told the jury that the prosecution contends Ross's death was not an accident and the injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

The trial is expected to take four weeks.