'Trauma' caused Gainford baby's fatal injuries, court hears

Darlington and Stockton Times: Denies manslaughter: Lee Clark Denies manslaughter: Lee Clark

A BRAIN specialist’s investigation concluded a five-month-old boy died as a result of suffering "trauma", a jury at Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Consultant neuropathologist Daniel Du Plessis said excessive force was the only "plausible" explanation behind the injuries Charlee Cameron Clark suffered before he died.

But he was unable to say whether or not they were caused deliberately.

The baby’s father, Lee Clark, 28, of Neville Close, Gainford, County Durham, is accused of manslaughter by shaking him to death, which the former bar manager denies.

Dr Du Plessis said he found evidence of bleeding and damage to the nerve roots of the spinal cord.

He said: “If a child is shaken vigorously, or slammed into an object that can cause the spine to move. If the force is excessive that can lead to the damage of the nerve roots of the spinal cord.

“There is another explanation. The bleeds may have been cause by a lack of blood and oxygen.

“I can’t say this bleeding was caused by trauma, but that is one explanation.”

The court heard Charlee had also suffered severe bleeding and swelling to his brain as well as bleeding behind his eyes.

The doctor added: “It affected both eyes extensively. The pattern and distribution of bleeding is a very strong indicator of traumatic injury. Trauma provides the most plausible and reasonable explanation.”

Charlee died on March 2011 at the RVI in Newcastle, five days after being admitted to Darlington Memorial Hospital.

He had been left in his father’s care while his mother went shopping in Darlington.

Social services and police were called over doctors fears he may have been shaken.

Concluding his evidence-in-chief, Dr Du Plessis said: “The only plausible cause is traumatic injury. Whether it is accidental or non-accidental is not part of pathology.

“If it was accidental there needs to be an adequate explanation.

“As far as I am aware that has not been provided in this case.”

The jury has also heard from pathologist Dr Mark Egan, who examined Charlee shortly before his death and carried out a post mortem examination on March 2.

He said there was no doubt the cause of death was a traumatic head injury and the most likely cause of the injuries was ‘vigorous shaking.’ The trial continues.

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