Glasgow & West Scotland

Declan Hainey murder trial told report was 'misleading'

High Court in Glasgow
Image caption Dr Cunningham looked at growth retardation lines on Declan's bones

An expert witness in the Kimberley Hainey murder trial has admitted that his report on the death of her 23-month-old son Declan was "misleading".

Dr Craig Cunningham told the High Court in Glasgow he stood by the report's conclusion that lines on the boy's bones could be indicators of abuse.

But he said he should also have included material which disputed this.

Ms Hainey, 37, of Johnstone, Paisley, denies murdering Declan, concealing his body and pretending he was alive.

The court previously heard that the toddler's body was found partially "mummified" in his cot at his home in Bruce Road, Paisley, on 30 March last year.

Growth retardation

It is estimated he had been dead for up to seven months.

On Thursday, the court heard from Prof Sue Black, a professor of human anatomy and forensic anthropology at Dundee University.

She was given permission to examine Declan's bones in Dundee.

The academic told the court that she found instances of growth retardation lines on Declan's leg and arm bones.

Prof Black said that these were known as Harris rings and that they could indicate "malnutrition, physical illness, psychological trauma, abuse or neglect".

On Friday, the court heard from Dr Cunningham, 27, a lecturer in anthropology at Dundee University.

He worked with Prof Black in compiling the report which was presented in court.

Under cross-examination by defence QC Edward Targowski, he admitted that Declan's femur and radial bones were also examined and showed just two Harris lines.

He was asked by Mr Targowski: "Why does it not say that in the report."

Report 'misleading'

He replied: "It should say that, but it doesn't."

The defence QC then said: "This is a murder trial. Your report should indicate that, it is misleading."

Dr Cunningham replied: "Yes. It is misleading."

Mr Targowski added: "You would know that when you wrote and signed it."

Dr Cunningham replied: "That's not something that come to my attention when I signed it."

Dr Cunningham also admitted that he had not made any reference in his report to the fact that there is a scientific debate about the cause of Harris lines with some scientists claiming they are caused by growth spurts.

He was asked why he had not told the court about these research papers and said: "We viewed them as fundamentally flawed."

Dr Cunningham, who has a PhD in anthropology and is not medically qualified, agreed that the research papers should have been brought to the attention of the prosecution and defence.

Tibia images

Mr Targowski then asked him: "If the defence hadn't found these papers you would never have mentioned it in court, would you?"

He replied: "No."

He also agreed that in parts of the research carried out for the report he did not compare like with like when examining Declan's Harris lines against those found in X-rays of 632 children.

This was because images of Declan's tibia were enhanced on computer and the others were not.

When re-examined by prosecutor Andrew Stewart QC, Dr Cunningham said that he stuck by the conclusions of the report that the Harris lines could be indicators or malnourishment, abuse or neglect.

Ms Hainey, is accused of assaulting, wilfully ill-treating and neglecting her son Declan over a 19-month period between 1 September 2008 and 30 March last year.

The Crown has charged her with either murdering her son or alternatively of neglecting him by failing to provide medical care for him whereby his physical and psychological development were impaired.

It is alleged that she left her son alone and unattended in the house for excessive periods of time, left him in wet and soiled nappies for excessive periods of time, caused him to be exposed to heroin and amphetamine, caused him to ingest these drugs and failed to provide medical aid and care for him.

The Crown also alleges that Ms Hainey pretended that Declan was alive in an attempt to defeat the ends of justice between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010.

She is also accused of possessing heroin and supplying heroin to Greg Irving in Renfrew, on various occasions between 25 December 2009 and 31 March last year.

She denies all the charges against her.

The trial before Lord Woolman continues.

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