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Friday, 24 October 2014

Child’s broken ribs ‘evidence of abuse’

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CHRISTOPHER NEWTON

A YOUNGSTER’S injuries were consistent with being shaken, the jury in a child abuse trial has heard.

A medical expert giving evidence at the trial of a man accused of abusing a young child has described how a brain injury was caused by the child being shaken and not by “rough or clumsy” handling.

Dr Ian Mecrow, a consultant paediatrician with more than 20 years’ experience, had examined all the medical evidence on the young child that Christopher Newton is accused of abusing.

He told the jury yesterday at Preston Crown Court that the injuries received by the child were signs of deliberate abuse. The court heard that when the child was taken to Furness General Hospital by hospital last year, doctors found a brain injury, broken ribs and a broken toe.

Dr Mecrow said the brain injury would have happened just a few minutes before the 999 call was made. He also claimed broken ribs were “almost always” caused deliberately.

He said: “In research by the Welsh Study Group rib fractures came out as probably the most important pointer towards abuse injuries, particularly in very small children. A study by Bullock in America looked at children with rib fractures and concluded that they are almost always abusive injuries if there is no accident or underlying bone disease.”

Mr Roderick Priestley, prosecuting, asked Dr Mecrow: “Could clumsy or rough handling explain these injuries?”

“No,” the doctor replied.

The jury also heard that whoever had inflicted the injuries would have known they had hurt the child.

Dr Mecrow, who said he had dealt with around 50 cases of child abuse in the last two years, said: “Rib fractures are extremely painful. The person who did this would have known they had hurt the child. have been caused by being shaken or by being hit with a hard object.

When asked if the injury could have been caused by a fall, Dr Mecrow said: “It would be very, very rare in accidental falls.”

During cross-examination by defence barrister Mr Richard Vardon, Dr Mecrow conceded he was making certain conclusions about the child’s injuries based on the statements of its carers.

He said: “I am dependent on the statements of the people who were present at the time.”

Newton, 23, formerly of Barrow but now living at Myrtle Road, Trafford, Manchester, denies two charges of child cruelty and one charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

The trial continues with Newton expected to give evidence today.

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