Man charged with killing his daughter

Christopher O'Neill
Christopher O'Neill

A Belfast man has been charged with murdering his baby daughter.

When he first appeared in Lisburn Magistrates’ Court in February last year, Christopher O’Neill (25) was charged with causing grievous bodily harm to three-month-old Caragh Walsh.

Within hours of that hearing, the little girl died.

Following the death, O’Neill, from the Whiterock Road in the west of the city, was charged with baby Caragh’s manslaughter.

Then, just last month, a senior prosecutor ordered a fresh post mortem report to be compiled.

O’Neill as back in the dock of Lisburn court on Thursday, this time charged with his daughter’s murder on February 7 last year.

A preliminary enquiry, a legal step committing O’Neill to the Crown Court to stand trial for his daughter’s murder, was due to be held yesterday but was adjourned.

Defence solicitor Paul Sweeney said he had only received “voluminous papers” in the last few days including what he described as “quite complex” medical evidence, and asked Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer to adjourn the case for two weeks.

A prosecuting lawyer said she had no objection and releasing O’Neill on continuing bail, Judge Mateer told him to return on September 11.

Previous courts heard baby Caragh suffered a “significant traumatic brain injury” .

The court had been told police were alerted by medical staff who were not happy with O’Neill’s explanation for the injuries, and when challenged in interviews he admitted “shaking” her.

His solicitor said O’Neill had been looking Caragh at the Glasvey Park flat he shared with the child’s mother when the baby “became suddenly ill”, so in a “panic” he took steps he thought were “perfectly reasonable in the circumstances”.