A leading expert on child abuse has told a US court that Rehma Sabir, a toddler that prosecutors claim was murdered by Irish nanny Aisling McCarthy Brady, died from abusive head injuries that she could only have suffered on the same day that she was hospitalized in Boston.
“I believe she was shaken and slammed,’’ Dr Alice Newton told Judge Maureen Hogan, who will decide whether to allow the doctor’s evidence to be heard during Ms McCarthy’s trial in October.
Dr Newton told Middlesex Superior Court yesterday that her diagnosis is based on medical analysis and reports on the toddlers behaviour from her mother and Ms McCarthy, the day after the one year old died.
Ms McCarthy Brady, originally from Lavey in County Cavan, is accused of murdering baby Rehma on January 14th 2013 in the Sabir family home in a suburb of Boston, a charge she denies.
The prosecution claim that the toddler was in the sole care of Ms McCarthy Brady when she suffered devastating injuries, including blunt force trauma to the head.
Her lawyers have accused the prosecution of failing to look at other diagnoses despite the fact that the baby was sick much of her life and suffered gastrointestinal problems, failure to gain weight, and a bleeding disorder.
In papers previously filed with the court, lawyers for Ms McCarthy also say she was accused of inflicting vertebral fractures, but it was later established that the injuries were three to four weeks old and occurred when the child was travelling with her mother in Pakistan.
Dr Newton was working at Boston Children’s Hospital as the leader of the child protection program when baby Sabir died and told the court yesterday that both Mrs Brady and Mrs Sabir told her that Rehma had been acting normally when her mum left for work on the morning of January 14th.
The pediatrician and Harvard professor confirmed the diagnosis that she had previously given to a grand jury, leading to the Cavan woman’s indictment, that she believed Rehma’s brain injuries were inflicted between 3.30 pm and 4pm that afternoon.
Dr Newton said Rehma’s mum told her the baby was responsive that morning, lifting a tea cup and making eye contact.
“It is impossible for a child with that degree of brain injury to appear normal, playing, drinking, eating,” she told the court.
“After sustaining such a severe brain injury there is not an interval or period where children can look normal and then get very sick,” concluding that she had died from “blunt force trauma.”
“It is my opinion that Rehma was subjected to violent force, violent shaking and blunt force trauma such would be viewed by a spectator to be completely unreasonable handling of an infant,” she said.
Under cross examination from the Cavan nanny’s lawyer Melinda Thompson, Dr Newton said older fractures suffered by the baby didn’t change her conclusion that she had died from brain trauma.
When probed on why she hadn’t taken notes on the night of Rehma’s admission, Dr Newton told the court that things had happened “so quickly and intensely.”
Judge Hogan will decide on a later date whether to limit of exclude Dr Newton’s testimony.
Ms McCarthy Brady has been in jail in the US since her arrest at the beginning of last year and is due to go on trial in October.
A LAWYER for an Irish nanny charged with the murder in the death of a one-year-old girl has argued that medical reports indicating that the child suffered bone fractures when she was not in the nanny's care should result in her being released on bail while awaiting trial.