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Child cruelty trial hears evidence of brain injuries

Padraig Conlon 22 Oct 2021

By Declan Brennan

A medical expert has told the trial of two parents accused of child cruelty that a child could get a brain injury from a bad fall.

A Dublin based 39-year-old man and his 36-year-old wife have pleaded not guilty to two charges of assault causing serious harm and three charges of child cruelty at the family home in Dublin on dates between June 28 and July 2, 2019.

The child was hospitalised with life-changing injuries on July 2, 2019. The parents, who are originally from north Africa, cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

On day 11 of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Dr Adam Nelson, a neuroradiologist, told Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, that he examined the child’s medical records, including MRI images of her brain and photographs of injuries to face, head and body.

He said he noted cuts, burns, abrasions and bruises on the child’s body. He said he examined family photographs taken of the child at the seaside on June 28, 2019 and said he could not see any of these injuries.

He said that his conclusion what that injuries could only be sustained by blunt force trauma to the head.

He agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending the child’s mother, that his hypothesis was that there were two traumatic events to the head.

He agreed that the first trauma to the head might not have brought with it a loss of consciousness.

Asked if “the injury from the first event may not have made itself known to those who were looking at the child” he replied correct.

Asked if a loss of balance might be a sign of the injury, Dr Nelson said that the symptoms of such a trauma could be anything, including double vision.

He agreed that he postulated that there was “a subsequent trauma which exacerbates the (earlier) situation and results in the catastrophic injuries”.

He said it is not possible to say what caused the original trauma except that it involves some injury to the head. He said that the studies of this area have shown that “children can get an initial injury from a bad fall or something like that”.

The parents of the child told gardaí that they didn’t know what caused the injuries to her head and body but suggested a fall from her bike or a fall in the shower may have caused them.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.

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