Father charged with murdering 14-week-old daughter

Court
Court

A paramedic with over 30 years experience broke down in court as he described finding a glassy-eyed baby girl lying on a settee and realising she was not breathing.

The rapid response paramedic said the look on the youngster’s face was known as ‘a porcelain doll’ adding: “It was a glazed look of a child not breathing.”

He was giving evidence at the Craigavon Crown Court trial of west Belfast man Christopher O’Neill, who denies murdering his three-month-old baby daughter, Caragh Walsh, nearly three years ago.

The 26-year-old from Belfast’s Whiterock Road denies the murder of his infant daughter who died on February 7, 2014, two days after being rushed to hospital from her Glasveigh Park home in Twinbrook.

Prosecution QC Toby Hedworth told the Craigavon court, sitting in Armagh, that baby Caragh had been left alone in her father’s care, but within half an hour or so, a distressed-sounding O’Neill was making a 999 call for help because she had stopped breathing.

The prosecution barrister said that O’Neill later claimed he had lifted the 14-week-old toddler and shook her, but that subsequent investigations revealed that the infant not only suffered brain injury, but also had a number of fractured limbs and bruises.

They were not consistent with limited shaking, but were more akin to swinging by the arms and legs and with impacts on the child’s head.

Mr Hedworth told the jury of 10 men and two women that was the reason O’Neill was before the court because it was the prosecution case he must have caused the injures, and by doing so, even if only momentarily, he must have intended to cause really serious harm.

“Perhaps he had snapped because she was crying and he could not get her to settle, only he knows that,” said the lawyer, who added later that it was not his case, nor was it suggested, that O’Neill intended to kill his baby daughter, but that being unable to quieten her, he “must have lost self-control and that he caused those catalogue of injuries”.