Northern Ireland

Baby girl's skull fracture 'like car crash injury'

A fracture to a baby girl's skull allegedly inflicted by her father was comparable to a car crash injury, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

Prosecutors said the accused man, who is 23, had been out all night and drinking before the alleged assault at a house in west Belfast in November.

The suspect, who cannot be named to protect the child's identity, claims his daughter was injured accidentally.

He denies a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He had been granted bail, but was returned to custody for breaking an alcohol ban which was part of the conditions for his release.

In court on Thursday, opposing his application to be released again, a Crown lawyer said the skull fracture happened in 20 minutes on the morning of 3 November.

The child's mother claimed she left her daughter and partner together on a bed while she went out of the house.

When she returned she discovered the baby had severe bruising and black eyes, the lawyer said.

The lawyer said the child's mother said: "Oh my God... What did you do?" It's alleged that he replied: "She will be all-right, stop freaking out, stop freaking out."

After his arrest ,the man told police he left his daughter on the bed to get a fry, and that when he returned her bottle had fallen on her face. He later claimed he accidentally knocked her head against a wall while going upstairs.

But the prosecution said police, social services and medical staff believed the injuries could not have happened as described.

"The force required to cause such extensive bruising, with a skull fracture, would be great," the lawyer said.

'One more chance'

He added such an injury would be unlikely to be caused accidentally, except in a car crash.

The suspect had been granted bail to live with his parents and younger brother and sister. But the lawyer said that the accused's brother and sister had been put on the child protection register because of his presence in their home.

He had later been returned to custody for drinking.

A defence lawyer said the accused was no risk to his siblings. He said he had not turned up drunk at his partner's home on the morning of the alleged assault.

"He slept at a friend's house. I don't want the court to have the idea that this man had been out partying all night," he said.

After hearing from the accused's father, the judge decided that he could be granted bail again on "one further chance".

He imposed a night-time curfew and ordered that he have no unauthorised contact with his daughter or her mother.