Parents twisted baby: witness

TWO doctors yesterday offered medical evidence that a forceful twisting and tugging motion was a likely cause of a four-month-old baby’s broken bones.

The committal hearing into a Gin Gin mother and father’s alleged tug-of-war using their baby, causing a fractured arm and legs, continued in Bundaberg Magistrates Court after being adjourned in September.

The man, 20, and woman, 19, who cannot be named for legal reasons, sat silently in the back of the courtroom.

They face one count each of assault causing bodily harm.

The woman’s defence lawyer, Kim Bryson, questioned Bundaberg Hospital’s director of paediatrics Dr Judy Williams, who examined the baby after he was transferred from Gin Gin Hospital on November 20, 2007.

The defence lawyer asked the doctor if the baby’s broken arm could be caused by the child, now aged 24 months, rolling himself into a piece of wood placed near his bed.

“A four-month-old could not roll against a wall with enough force to cause that injury,” Dr Williams said.

The doctor also said the leg fractures were not accidental.

She said the arm injury could be caused by a significant blunt force, a bending action like breaking a stick, or if a child had been pulled on.

“Different people holding different parts of the arm is a tensile motion, and with a little bit of rotation, would cause this injury,” Dr Williams said.

Dr Riazal Ali also said the baby would have been subjected to significant force to have a fractured arm.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens said witness Kenneth Phillis’s testimony about what happened to the baby matched the evidence given by the doctors.

During the first day of proceeding, Mr Phillis said the parents pulled on the baby at the same time during an argument.

“That is not something he could guess at,” Sgt Stevens said.

“What he said matches the medical facts, in my submission, and that is why it should go before the jury.”

But Ms Bryson argued in her closing submission that the evidence offered by Mr Phillis was not reliable because of his numerous head injuries, his mental health issues and the fact the co-defendants gave evidence against him in another court matter.

Magistrate Jennifer Batts adjourned the case until 2pm today.

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