Saturday, December 13, 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 Chicago professor has rejected the assertion that toddler Kyle Fisher can only have died by blows to the head the night he collapsed," the Evening Gazette story, dated 31 December, 2008, begins;

"Professor William Dobyns, University of Chicago professor in human genetics, neurology and paediatrics, gave evidence at Teesside Crown Court yesterday," the story, under the heading, "Professor tells court, seizure could have killed Kyle Fisher," continues;

"He is the latest international expert called by the defence for Suzanne Holdsworth, 38.

She is accused of killing the two-year-old Kyle by banging his head against her banisters on July 21, 2004.

The Crown say the boy must have suffered his fatal injuries while alone with the mum-of-two who was babysitting him at her home on Millpool Close, Hartlepool.

The case was put to the professor that the only possible explanation of Kyle’s fatal collapse from brain swelling was a further trauma to the head.

Defence barrister Andrew Thomas QC asked Prof Dobyns: “Do you accept that?” He replied: “No, not at all.

“The idea that he had a severe trauma to his head and brain on that day just doesn’t fit with the information.

“I believe that a direct blow to the brain causing the brain swelling and death is simply not an appropriate conclusion at all.”

In contrast, he said, the swelling was “perfectly consistent” with pressure from water on the brain combined with an epileptic seizure.

He told jurors there was nothing pointing away from that explanation.

He said Kyle had five brain conditions pre-disposing him to epilepsy - nerve cells in the wrong place, bleeding, scarring, a large coin-sized hole in his skull and a large brain.

“I have not seen this exact combination before. It is very, very rare,” he added.

“I found one abnormality after another after another. I’ve listed seven or eight abnormalities this boy had. Each one is totally separate.”

He said the “striking” factors combined made Kyle’s brain “very, very vulnerable to the problems of pressure and (it) simply wasn’t able to cope”.

“I think that explains why the boy went so quickly. His brain was so vulnerable because of so many pre-disposing factors that he had.”

He added: “The pathological findings are incontrovertible.”

A prolonged fit, which he said would have lasted for a minimum of 11 minutes, could have caused fatal brain swelling, said the professor.

“There is no question that it could,” he added.

He said Kyle’s brain injuries did not follow the typical pattern for traumatic damage.

Holdsworth, 38, now of Boggart Hill Drive, Seacroft, Leeds, denies murder.