Friday, December 12, 2008



Babysitter Suzanne Holdsworth, who has previously found guilty of murdering her neighbour's two-year-old son by repeatedly banging the boy's head against a wooden banister, has won an appeal against her conviction. She has been granted bail after Court of Appeal Judges declared her conviction for the murder of a toddler "unsafe" in the light of new medical evidence.

Acting for Suzanne, Henry Blaxland QC of Garden Court's Crime team argued that new evidence showed she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice over the death of the two-year old boy. The Court of Appeal was told that they child had abnormalities which predisposed him to epilepsy.

Henry Blaxland QC said that the doctors who gave evidence at trial "got it wrong" and "collectively failed to diagnose" that the Kyle had a "highly unusual brain", which indicated three abnormalities, two of which predisposed him to epilepsy."

Henry Blaxland QC also stated that the prosecution's case at trial 'was based on expert medical opinion evidence to the effect that the child died from fatal brain swelling or oedema which was caused by a blow or blows of significant force.'

A jury was told in 2005 that the mum-of-two smashed the toddler’s head against a bannister with the force of “a car crash at 60mph," Yet Kyles's skull was unbroken and there was no evidence of hair, blood or tissue on the wood.

One of the experts providing fresh evidence on behalf of the defence is forensic pathologist Dr. Christopher Millroy who participated in the Ontario Chief Coroner's Review of suspicious death of infant's cases involving Dr. Charles Smith and later testified at the recently concluded Goudge Inquiry;


"A brain specialist has told a murder trial jury that the head injury which killed a toddler might not have been caused by him being assaulted by his babysitter or anyone else," the latest Northern Echo story, under the heading "Brain specialist gives evidence to toddler murder trial," begins.

"Dr Wainey Squier said the prosecution's case that Kyle Fisher was repeatedly banged against a banister "would fly in the face of a large amount of clinical evidence," the December 11, 2008 story, by reporter Neil Hunter, continues.

"Babysitter Suzanne Holdsworth is facing a retrial at Teesside Crown Court, accused of the murder of the two-year-old at her home in Hartlepool in the summer of 2004.

On the eighth day of the case today, Dr Squier, a consultant neuro-pathologist, was called by the defence to give evidence based on her 24 years' experience.

She said that she could not agree with the assertion that Kyle's injuries could only have been caused by him having his head smashed against the wooden stair-rail.

Dr Squier, now based at the University of Oxford, told the jury of eight men and four women that her opinion was that an epileptic seizure was "far more likely".

Kyle collapsed at Ms Holdsworth's home on the Central Estate while his mother, Clare, had a night out with friends, and died in hospital two days later.

The prosecution alleges that the former shelf-stacker lost her temper with the toddler as she babysat him, but her defence team suggests his injuries were caused by a fit.

The jury is tomorrow expected to hear from an expert who is flying in from the US to give evidence to support mother-of-two Ms Holdsworth's version of events.

The case continues."


The Hartlepool Mail had more extensive coverage of yesterday's defence expert witness testimony in a story headed, 'It was fit that killed Kyle', by reporter Paul Watson;

"MEDICAL experts believe an epileptic seizure most likely led to the death of two-year-old Kyle Fisher who was allegedly murdered by his babysitter," Watson's story began.

"The court has heard how the tragic youngster suffered a fit and died a few days later from severe brain swelling having never regained consciousness," the story continued;

"Suzanne Holdsworth, now 38, has denied murdering him at her home in Millpool Close, Hartlepool, on the Central estate, in July 2004.

The court has been told that she repeatedly banged his head against a wooden banister in a "fit of temper" while minding him when his teenage single mother Clare Fisher went out drinking.

Holdsworth has maintained that Kyle suddenly "went floppy" and collapsed as they sat on her sofa watching television.

Professor Wainey Squier, who is currently at the University of Oxford, was brought in by Holdsworth's defence team because of her expertise.

It was put to her in court yesterday that the prosecution case is that the youngster had to have died from injuries caused by the banister
Professor Squier, who the court was told had an "illustrious career" said: "I can't exclude that, but I think it would fly in the face of a large amount of clinical evidence to say that it is the only possibility.

"In my opinion, an epileptic seizure would be far more likely."
The court has heard that Kyle suffered from a number of pre-exisiting brain abnormalities, some of which even on their own, would have left him pre-disposed to epilepsy.

The jury of eight men and four women were told that 80 per cent of children with any one of the abnormalities would develop epilepsy.
Professor Squier added: "I have never seen a brain where all of these features have come together.

"It is quite unique.

"This case is incredibly complicated, there are so many factors involved."

Professor Renzo Guerrini, a paediatric neurologist at the University of Florence Children's Hospital, flew in from Italy to give evidence yesterday.

The court heard he has helped write guidelines on paediatric epilepsy for the World Health Organisation, has held numerous posts including Professor at Kings College, London, Professor at Great Ormond Street and currently sits on numerous international committees.

Professor Guerrini said of the youngster's brain abnormalities: "I am not aware of such a patient reported in any medical literature.

"There's a really high chance for a child having this combination of features to have epileptic seizures."

He said that Holdsworth's description of Kyle's symptoms when she rang 999 saying he was floppy, hitting himself and drifting in and out of consciousness matched such a fit.

When asked by defence barrister Andrew Thomas: "Is it conceivable that a member of the public could invent a description like that?" he replied "No".

The court has heard that the youngster had bruising and marks to his head. But her defence has claimed that they were inflicted the previous day and coupled with his brain abnormalities led to the unexpected fit on Wednesday July 21.

Professor Guerrini was asked by Mr Thomas: "What is the scenario that caused Kyle to collapse that evening?"

He told the court: "In my opinion there is compelling evidence he had some head injury before this night which might have been trivial but sufficient enough to produce bleeding on the brain which triggered the epileptic seizure which because of Kyle's brain condition was possibly prolonged."

Teesside Crown Court heard that Holdsworth, now of Boggart Hill Drive, in Seacroft, Leeds, was convicted of Kyle's murder in 2005 and the current hearing is a re-trial following a ruling by the Court of Appeal earlier this year.";