Gainford baby death trial told injuries unlikely to have been caused by accident or infection (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Gainford baby death trial told injuries unlikely to have been caused by accident or infection
A FORENSIC pathologist giving evidence at the trial of a father accused of shaking his baby son to death said it was very unlikely the child’s injuries were caused by accident or infection.
Home Office pathologist Dr Mark Egan said “vigorous shaking” was the most viable explanation for the injuries that led to five-month-old Charlee Cameron Clark’s death.
Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court today (Friday, February 1) heard how Charlee had suffered severe bleeding and swelling to his brain and bleeding behind his eyes.
Former bar manager, Lee Clark, 28, denies the manslaughter of his son at their home in Neville Close, Gainford, County Durham.
Dr Egan, who examined Charlee shortly before his death and carried out a post-mortem on March 2, said there was no doubt the cause of death was a traumatic head injury.
When asked the most likely cause of the injuries could be, Dr Egan said “vigorous shaking,” adding: “It would have needed to have been a substantial amount of force – far more than normal handling. Babies are quite delicate.
“The shaking only has to last for a short time - ten or 20 seconds of vigorous shaking would have been sufficient to cause the injuries.”
Dr Egan said the two bruises above Charlee’s right and left knees were also “highly suggestive” of him being gripped.
Paediatric pathologist Dr Christopher Wright, who carried out the post-mortem with Dr Egan, confirmed there was no convincing evidence of natural disease.
Charlee was admitted to hospital on February 25. Earlier that day, his mother, Natalie Holmes, had gone shopping and left the child in Mr Clark’s care.
Mr Clark told his then fiancé that the youngster had been refusing his bottle and making groaning noises in her absence.
Robert Smith, for the defence, suggested Charlee’s death was the result of fresh bleeding to an existing brain injury that was triggered by everyday handling.
He highlighted the lack of bruising to the other side of Charlee’s knees and said the bruises could be the result of a friend trying to remove the youngster from his baby bouncer without undoing the safety bar.
Mr Smith also suggested Dr Egan and Dr Wright were guilty of a “serious oversight” by inadvertently failing to send an import sample for tests at the earliest opportunity.
However, Dr Egan disputed this had impaired the expert’s ability to draw conclusions.
The trial continues.