POST: "Is there evidentiary basis for shaken baby syndrome? The conviction of Joby Rowe: Extract of a periodical article by scientist Chris Brook, published on The Wrongful Convictions Report.

GIST:  "In July of 2018, Joby Rowe was convicted of child homicide in the Supreme Court of Victoria, (and sentenced to 9 years, with 6 years no parole) found to have shaken to death his three month old daughter Alanah. This was the second trial for Rowe, after the jury failed to reach a verdict in the initial trial. Rowe steadfastly denied shaking Alanah, or physically abusing her in any way. No witness saw Rowe shake Alanah, who had no history of abuse or violence. There were no external injuries to Alanah, such as broken bones or bruising. The evidence against Rowe was purely based on expert testimony relating Alanah’s injuries to shaking. The Crown’s case was that Alanah’s SBS associated brain injuries, including the ‘triad’, were ‘reasonably explicable only from inflicted head trauma from rapid acceleration/ deceleration and rotational forces’. The notion that certain brain injuries can only occur through violent shaking is at the heart of the controversy over SBS. It creates a presumption that when a baby presents certain symptoms, the last person to have been looking after it must be guilty. Three expert witnesses testified for the prosecution. Dr. Linda Iles, the director of forensic pathology at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, testified that Alanah’s injuries were caused by ‘mechanical head trauma . . . due to shaking’ and that there is no other cause that she could identify. Joanne Tully, Deputy Director of the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service (VFPMS) at the Royal Children’s and Monash Children’s Hospitals, stated that Alanah’s injuries were ‘a result of trauma that was most likely inflicted . . . as a result of shaking or shaking with impact’. Dr. Lim Joon, an ophthalmologist who is senior specialist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear and Western Hospitals, testified that Alanah’s injuries were ‘suggestive of significant head trauma.’ In sum, the prosecution asserted that the clinical findings were the ‘smoking guns’ of shaking that was ‘violent’, ‘vigorous’ and/or ‘significantly in excess of normal handling’, and that ‘there is no other reasonable explanation for these injuries’.

INTRODUCTION:  Joby Rowe’s 2018 conviction for child homicide was based solely on forensic evidence that openly and overtly lacked any scientific basis, with expert opinions based instead on confession studies. This case raises fundamental questions for forensic science in Australia, primarily: should forensic evidence be scientific? Or should it appeal to authority?

CONCLUSIONS: "The conclusions are clear and unambiguous: the diagnoses of SBS by reference to associated brain injuries is not supported by science, whilst confession studies do not provide an evidentiary basis for guilt beyond reasonable doubt in the absence of corroborating evidence. Yet Joby Rowe was convicted purely on expert opinion evidence, experts who conceded the lack of a scientific basis for SBS, and based their opinions on confession studies, even though they had no expertise in interrogations or confessions. Does it matter that there is no scientific basis for SBS? This goes to the heart of how Australian forensic science wants to define itself, and how the legal system wants to engage science. Should forensic ‘science’ be required to actually have a scientific basis? Should scientific ‘reliability’ be explicitly required within the Australian legal system? Or should it simply follow a model of appealing to authority, allowing well qualified forensic experts to provide opinions that lack sufficient evidentiary basis?"

AUTHOR: "Chris Brook is a theoretical astrophysicist who works on the formation of galaxies, trying to understand what galaxies can tell us about the nature of dark matter. He works at the University of La Laguna and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, one of Spain’s most prestigious science institutes. Chris has previously held scientific research positions in universities in Australia, Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., has published more than 80 refereed journal articles that have been cited several thousands of times, and has been invited to talk at conferences and universities throughout the world. As well as a bachelor science and doctorate in astrophysics, Chris also has law and commerce degrees, and has published work on issues in forensic science. Chris has a particular interest in miscarriages of justice, particularly in the way that the legal system engages science, and how misunderstandings and ignorance of scientific knowledge can lead to injustice. Chris grew up in Melbourne, and now lives in Tenerife, Spain, with his wife Arianna and daughter Miranda."

The entire post can be read at:


Read the report on the jury's finding Joby Rowe guilty of Child Homicidem by reporter Adam   Cooper, published on August 3, 2018, by 'The Age,' under the Heading "Joby Rowe found guilty of child homicide over death of baby daughter Alanah, at the link below:

"A first-time father has been found guilty of killing his baby daughter by forcibly shaking her.
Joby Rowe, 26, gasped and began breathing deeply in and out on Friday when a Supreme Court jury found him guilty of child homicide – an offence similar to manslaughter but applies only to children under six – over the death of daughter Alanah three years ago. He had pleaded not guilty. Rowe's trial was told he violently shook Alanah on August 29, 2015 while he was caring for the three-month-old and the baby's half-sister, then aged five, in their Heathcote home while the girls' mother, Stephanie Knibbs, was at work. Ms Knibbs arrived home that afternoon to find her then partner standing over Alanah, who was on the change table. He said: "There's something wrong with Alanah." The baby appeared pale and unresponsive, was gasping for breath, blood was coming from her nose and her body was limp, the trial heard. Alanah was flown by helicopter ambulance to the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne but died the next day, after doctors treated her for a brain injury due to a lack of oxygen and blood, bleeding on the brain and bleeding on the retinas. The only medical explanation for those injuries, prosecutor Ben Ihle told the trial, was that Rowe vigorously and violently shook his daughter and inflicted the fatal injuries. He was the only adult who had any contact with Alanah after Ms Knibbs went to work. Rowe went to trial in Bendigo last year but a jury failed to reach a verdict after six days of deliberations. But the jury for retrial in Melbourne returned a guilty verdict one day after retiring to consider the evidence. The retrial heard Rowe was out of work when Alanah was born and did not return to employment until the week before her death. The first-time father was a loving and caring dad, the jury heard, but also "buggered" after he and Ms Knibbs both went back to work in the week before Alanah died. Rowe denied to police he ever shook Alanah and said he did not drop her or that she fell. His lawyer, James FitzGerald, said the medical evidence presented at the trial was not convincing enough and that the jury had to infer things based on the evidence.
He said the video of the police interview with Rowe showed a man who was broken and bewildered at the death of his daughter. Rowe trembled and sobbed after the jury announced its verdict and he was taken into custody. He will return to court for a pre-sentence hearing later this month."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic"  section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:  Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;