Baby daughter of man charged with GBH dies

Craigavon Courthouse
Craigavon Courthouse

The baby daughter of west Belfast man who is charged with causing her grievous bodily harm has died.

Three-month-old Cárágh Walsh had sustained what a police officer described in court as a “significant traumatic brain injury” and was bleeding onto her brain.

After she was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital on Wednesday she was “unconscious and not breathing,”

A CT scan revealed subarachnoid and subdural bleeding, a detective constable told Craigavon Magistrates Court yesterday.

Appearing in the dock, her father 23-year-old Christopher O’Neill spoke only to confirm his name.

He sat with his head bowed throughout the hearing, staring at the floor.

He is accused of causing grievous bodily harm to Cárágh on Wednesday, and the court heard that during police interviews, he admitted to “shaking” his baby daughter.

Objecting to a bail application, a detective constable repeatedly described it as a “tragic case”.

The officer described how O’Neill and Cárágh’s mother had been going out for 18 months but had moved in together to an apartment in Glasvey Park in west Belfast in the past week.

The court heard that during the two days of interviews, the defendant was granted compassionate police bail “in the tragic and exceptional circumstances” and in the company of officers and his solicitor, was allowed to visit Cárágh’s bedside for 80 minutes.

Under questioning by police, O’Neill claimed he had been looking after his daughter when she “became suddenly ill” so in a “panic,” he took steps which he thought were “perfectly reasonable in the circumstances”.

During bail submissions, his solicitor conceded that while emotion had no place in such applications, “the image of the dignity that the family had at the bedside with this gravely ill child will stay with me for a long time”.

District Judge Mervyn Bates granted bail.

At 8.35pm last night police announced the baby had died.

They added: “Following the court appearance of a 23-year-old man in Craigavon this morning, detectives from serious crime branch will be consulting with the Public Prosecution Service in relation to this case.”