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Injuries 'consistent with shaking' allegedly inflicted by child-minder, court told

Brain injuries suffered by an infant were consistent with violent shaking and were allegedly inflicted by a child-minder, a jury has heard.

The child-minder has pleaded not guilty to causing serious harm to the 10-month-old baby.

Opening the case for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sean Gillane SC said that Sandra Higgins began minding the baby girl shortly after she was born in May 2011.


He said that in early 2012 the girl's parents began to notice bumps and bruises on the child and Ms Higgins (34) explained these by saying the child had fallen at various points.

In March the accused telephoned the child's mother to say the baby had been vomiting. When collecting her, the mother noticed a bruise under the infant's eye. Ms Higgins - of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Cavan town - said that the child had fallen over.

The parent's concerns developed, Ms Gillane said, and they began seeking alternative child-minding arrangements.

On the day of the alleged offence the child-minder rang the child's mother in the afternoon from the Accident and Emergency ward of Cavan General Hospital. Mr Gillane said the child's mother rushed to hospital and that the child was very ill and the position appeared grave.


He said the child was suffering active seizures and had extensive bruising around the face and both sides of the head.

Mr Gillane said that a medical expert woould testify that retinal haemorrhaging was consistent with violent shaking injury and that the injuries were non-accidental and were inflicted.

He said that it was the prosecution case that the shaking of the infant occurred while she was in the care of Ms Higgins and at her hands.

He said that the defence would call an expert witness who would say that there was no evidence to support a diagnosis of violent shaking and that it's not possible to say if the injuries were inflicted or accidental.

He told the jury that his summary of the case was not evidence and that jurors should forget what he had said by the end of trial, having heard all the evidence.

Mr Gillane told the jurors that they should look at the evidence in a manner that is cold and dispassionate.

"Prejudice and sympathy should be left outside the jury room," he said.

Ms Higgins pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby at her home on March 28, 2012.

The trial is set to run for six days before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury of eight men and four women.