Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bulletin: Sandra Higgins; Ireland; (Publisher's note: Oooops! News of the jury's failure to reach a verdict as reported in the Irish press on June 25th in this shaken baby syndrome case - in which the defence called Dr. Waney Squier as an expert witness - fell through the cracks and did not get reported in our continuing coverage of the case. "Before being discharged the jury had asked a number of questions. They asked to hear evidence of the vital signs as given by the consultant paediatrician who treated the child and from a UK neuropathologist called by the defence." Apologies! Harold Levy. Publisher);

"A jury has failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a childminder accused of causing serious harm to a ten-month-old baby. Registered child-minder Sandra Higgins, 34, of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Cavan town, Co Cavan had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby girl on March 28, 2012.........The prosecution alleged that the baby's symptoms were consistent with a violent shaking. Doctors who treated the baby girl said it was highly likely that the injuries to the child happened while she was in the care of Ms Higgins and that the injuries were non-accidental. Expert witnesses for the defence said the evidence was more suggestive of a head trauma and could have been the re-activation of an old injury. Ms Higgins told gardaí that she cared for the baby like her own children and that she never assaulted her. This afternoon the jury of eight men and four women told the judge they were unable to reach either a unanimous or majority verdict.........Before being discharged the jury had asked a number of questions. They asked to hear evidence of the vital signs as given by the consultant paediatrician who treated the child and from a UK neuropathologist called by the defence.'
http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/jury-fail-to-reach-verdict-in-baby-shaking-trial-683728.html
See Irish Times coverage of UK neuropathologist  Dr. Waney Squier's testimony in the case: (Neuropathologist rejects theory of shaken baby syndrome); "A UK neuropathologist has told the trial of a child-minder charged with assaulting a baby that shaken baby syndrome has no scientific validation. Registered child-minder Sandra Higgins (34) is alleged to have caused the injuries to the 10-month-old baby she was minding at her home. The trial has reached its final stages and closing speeches will be made before the jury on Tuesday. Ms Higgins of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Cavan town, Co Cavan has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby on March 28th, 2012. Defence witness Dr Waney Squier told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, she supported the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome up to 15 years ago. “Only 15 years ago I too was making the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. I too was a believer in the belief that so many people in the area of child abuse believe in. I then began to question this,” she said. She said she questioned it when a number of elements that supported the diagnosis were overturned by research. She said she began studying the scientific literature on the subject in great detail. “I looked at many many cases of shaken baby syndrome,” she said. “I could no longer agree that this was a syndrome that had any scientific validation. I came to the view that I could not be sure this is a real syndrome.” She rejected a suggestion from Mr Gillane that this represented a fixed view on her part. She said she has changed her mind in relation to the issue. “We all have to be careful. We have to keep our minds open. I’ve changed my mind already,” she said. She told Remy Farrell SC, defending, there was evidence of a pre-existing sub-dural haemorrhage in the child. She said this pre-existing condition would manifest in the baby’s head size, or the baby being irritable, not wanting to feed, losing weight or vomiting. She said there were documented cases of babies who had inflicted injuries experiencing a “lucid interval” or a period of time after a head injury when a baby may be perfectly normal. She said in this case there was evidence of older damage. “I think it is very dangerous to say because the child collapses at a certain time we know when the injury occurred,” she said."
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/circuit-court/uk-neuropathologist-rejects-theory-of-shaken-baby-syndrome-1.2258715