Couple charged with ignoring baby injuries

Defence lawyers in the trial of a Hastings couple accused of wilfully neglecting their 10-week-old son opened their case in court yesterday.

The couple, who have name suppression, are on trial at the Napier District Court.

The court heard on Monday that the couple's baby son was found to have a number of fractures when he was taken to hospital in early April 2011.

Crown Solicitor Steve Manning alleged the couple had wilfully neglected to seek medical treatment for the young child.

During an opening address lawyer Scott Jefferson urged the jury to keep an open mind when considering the facts of the case.

"This isn't a case about how the injuries were sustained or who caused them, that doesn't come into it. [Client] is not charged with assaulting the child."

The court previously heard evidence from two paediatricians that the injuries the baby suffered would have been extremely painful.

One of the doctors, a specialist radiographer from Auckland, said a fracture the boy sustained to his thigh bone would have been "excruciating".

He said the fracture appeared to be at least seven days old by the time the boy was admitted to hospital and X-rays were taken.

Mr Jefferson said the doctors would not have known how the baby reacted to the injuries.

"The doctor wasn't there at the time, he couldn't tell you how [the baby] reacted, how [he] presented. Family members of [client] were around at that time and they will tell you what they saw."

Mr Jefferson also asked the jury to consider "paradoxes"within the case.

"There seems to be a bit of a paradox if you accept what the Crown say that they did not seek medical treatment for [the baby] but they would for bronchitis."

The baby was admitted to the Hutt Hospital in mid March 2011 suffering from a respiratory issue.

He was also taken to a Hastings GP for an immunisation soon after one of the accused and the baby moved to Hawke's Bay.

"A few days after arriving one of the first things she does is she enrols [the baby] into a medical centre.

"An appointment was made for the 30th of March and she presented with the baby for a wellness check. Again, a bit of a paradox."

The brother of one of the accused gave evidence that nothing "distressing"ever happened when he visited the couple and the baby at their house.

"He hardly ever cried, he never seemed in distress or anything like that. He slept most of the time."

"I was there long enough to know if something was wrong with that baby, I wouldn't have put up with anything."

When questioned by Mr Manning about what he considered would be the outward presentation of a broken thigh bone, the witness said he thought the baby would have been in some sort of distress.

Mr Jefferson asked if he had ever seen the baby in distress to which the witness responded: "never".

The trial continues today.

By Anna Ferrick of Hawke's Bay Today

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