Examination ‘did not kill Rebecca’: expert

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A DOCTOR who treated disabled girl Rebecca McKeown has claimed the injuries which may have led to her death were not the result of a botched medical examination.

Rebecca McKeown died five days after sustaining an injury, alleged to have been the result of a sexual assault.

Her elderly Glengormley grandparents, David and Sarah Johnston, were last month acquitted of any wrongdoing following a five week trial in Belfast Crown Court.

It had been the prosecution’s case that one or other of the grandparents had caused the injuries while they was looking after the 14-year-old in March 2001 - a claim both denied.

The trial collapsed after an out-of-hours locum doctor who examined Rebecca admitted she may have “unintentionally” slipped her fingers into Rebecca’s body - something she had witheld for 11 years.

Dr Mary Donnelly’s testimony led to the Crown offering no further evidence and the Johnstons were acquitted.

Speaking after the trial the Johnstons’ solicitor said “no crime had been committed”.

In a letter to a Belfast newspaper, Dr Lea Cramsie who had examined Rebecca’s injuries and was due to give evidence to the trial, said she was “dismayed” at the collapse of the case.

She said: “What seems to have been forgotten is that Dr Donnelly was called out because Rebecca was bleeding profusely - not the other way around. The damage was already done.

“Doctors are, by training, investigative and Dr Donnelly could not have realised that this was to become a police investigation. She did what we all would have done.

“The injury I saw that night, as forensic medical examiner on call, was not caused by a ‘finger or two’ slipping into Rebecca’s body, but by considerable force.”

Dr Cramsie said the circumstances of what happened to Rebecca may never be known

“We can only hope that the McKeown and Johnston family will find some peace,” she added.