Jury hears father's plea of innocence

A NEW Mossley man accused of murdering his baby son told police he would have been "sick in the head" to hurt him, a court has heard.

Ryan John Leslie, from Ballyvesey Green in the estate, denies murdering his son Cameron and inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent in September 2008.

The jury heard how the baby died as a result of a head injury which caused his brain to swell.

He died at the Royal Victoria Hospital after being transferred from Antrim Area Hospital.

During the first of 22 recorded interviews Mr Leslie had with police officers, the jury at Belfast Crown Court heard him tell investigating officers: "I would never hurt my son - I love him to bits. I'm not that kind of person."

On Monday (January 31), they heard Mr Leslie tell officers on tape that the "only reason" he could think of for the baby's brain injury was that when he was bathing his son the night before he went to hospital, Cameron had kicked out with both legs and hit his head on the back of the plastic baby bath.

"You would have to be sick in the head to hurt a baby," the 26-year-old said.

He claimed that during the pregnancy, a scan had revealed "an anomaly" on the right side of the baby's brain and that while at Antrim Area Hospital, a doctor had told him it should have been checked after Cameron was born.

Mr Leslie also alleged that his mother had seen bruises on the baby's back a few days previously.

"It's not fair and I feel bad now because he was with me," he said.

"I'm telling the God's honest truth - I didn't lay a finger on that wee man, you would need to be sick in the head."

Mr Leslie said he first became worried about Cameron at about 5am when he was not breathing properly and was "like a zombie, totally lifeless", so he performed coronary pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

He said that he did not call an ambulance until just before 8am and when asked why not, Mr Leslie told police: "I don't know why. That's what I keep asking myself - would he still be alive?"

Last week the court heard claims from a doctor that baby Cameron's injuries were "typical of injuries seen in cases of child abuse".

Peter Ingram, NI assistant state pathologist, said that injuries to 14-week-old Cameron could not all have been sustained accidentally.

Dr Ingram said a bruise to the back of the baby's head "would be in keeping with blunt impact".

He added that he and three other expert pathologists spent more than nine hours examining the baby's body.

He said he found bruises to both arms, both legs, his back, abdomen, the back of his head, his chin and on either side of his neck.

Cameron's death was caused, said the doctor, by the bruise to back of his head which caused bleeding onto his brain.

The pathologist also said that his examinations revealed that Cameron had suffered eight fractured left ribs and six fractured right ribs seven to 10 days before he died.

He told prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy the likely cause of the bruise on the back of Cameron's head "could be violent shaking in conjunction with a forceful impact or a forceful impact alone".

Dr Ingram said that while the fractures did not contribute to Cameron's death they "support the contention that he was subjected to assault on more than one occasion".

The trial continues.