Couple go on trial accused of child cruelty after daughter left with life changing injuries

The girl was hospitalised and put on life support while a medical examination showed that her body was covered in cuts, bruises and burn marks.
Couple go on trial accused of child cruelty after daughter left with life changing injuries

Sonya McLean and Declan Brennan

The trial has begun of a Dublin couple accused of child cruelty charges after their nine-year-old daughter was left with life-changing injuries.

The 39-year-old man and 36-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, have pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the child at the family home in Dublin on July 2nd, 2019.

They have also pleaded not guilty to child cruelty, contrary to the Children Act, by failing to provide adequate medical aid on the same occasion.

The couple have further pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious disfigurement to the child and to two further counts of child cruelty on occasions between June 28th and July 2nd, 2019.

Opening the State's case on Tuesday, Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, told the jury they would hear evidence that the child sustained a brain injury that prevents her from functioning as a normal child again.

She said that at 10.57pm on the night in question, the father called 999 and said his daughter was unconscious after a fall in the shower.

She said they would also hear evidence that when the Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance crew arrived they were immediately struck by the fact that her body was in such a way that it suggested serious brain injury.

Limited consciousness

The girl was hospitalised and put on life support while a medical examination showed her body was covered in cuts, bruises and burn marks, Ms Rowland said.

She said the soles of the child's feet and the palms of her hands were burnt and even her vaginal area was blackened.

Ms Rowland said the child was eventually taken off life support but now has limited consciousness and is likely to need 24 hour care for the rest of her life.

She said the father told people at the hospital that his daughter had self-harmed, but that he had not noticed any of the extensive injuries on her body.

He later told gardaí that he did not know his daughter had any injuries on her body, Ms Rowland stated.

She said the evidence would be that his wife told gardaí their child used to bite herself, bang herself and pull her hair out.

The father told gardaí his daughter talked about seeing ghosts and he had brought her to a priest in Morocco, counsel said.

She said the medical evidence would be that the injuries were not consistent with anything the parents were saying.

On day one of the trial, the jury listened to a recording of the 999 call made by the girl's father.

During the call, the man told the Dublin Fire Brigade paramedic that the girl had fallen off the bike two days earlier and that he wanted to take her to hospital because she was “crying scared”.

“She got up, she said no, I'm fine. She was talking no problem. She had big mark [sic] on her eyes,” he said.

Under cross-examination the paramedic agreed with James Dwyer SC, defending the father, that he became upset at times during the call and appeared to be crying.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury. It is expected to last three weeks, but could run for up to four weeks.

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