Neighbour claims murder accused ‘lost it’ with crying baby

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NEIGHBOURS and friends of a New Mossley man accused of murdering his baby son have given evidence at his trial.

At Belfast Crown Court last week, neighbour Rachel Castles told how she’d heard Ryan John Leslie screaming at his crying child “as if he had just lost it.”

Mr Leslie, from Ballyvesey Green in the estate, denies the murder of his 14-week-old son Cameron in September 2008, saying he “showed him nothing but love and devotion.” He claims the baby died after accidentally banging his head on a plastic bath.

Mrs Castles, who lived in the flat below Mr Leslie’s, said the walls were wafer thin and that she could hear everything going on inside.

She told prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy that the day before baby Cameron was rushed to hospital she had heard the infant continually crying for between 30 to 45 minutes.

Mrs Castles claimed she also heard Mr Leslie, whom she knew as ‘Les’, constantly shouting at his son.

She said it appeared to her that Mr Leslie was “stressed out ... as if he had just lost it” and that on another occasion, he seemed to have screamed out, “ahhhh...”.

Mrs Castles said that after the child stopped crying she heard nothing more from the flat, and claimed that later that evening she had seen Leslie leaving the flat with his kit bag and thought he was going to football training.

She said that she had even remarked to her husband Robert, that Cameron’s mother, Sheree Black, must have come and collected the baby.

Under cross examination from defence QC John Orr, Mrs Castles agreed that she’d told police she could not remember which night she had seen Mr Leslie go out, whether it was the Tuesday or Wednesday night. She also agreed that when she said it appeared Leslie had “lost it”, she was only “surmising” he had done so.

Meanwhile, the court heard that Mr Leslie’s brother and two friends were smoking cannabis at his home the evening before baby Cameron Jay was admitted to hospital. However, the three men claimed that the accused did not smoke the joint.

David Lorimer said Mr Leslie’s brother Darren and another friend, Samuel Robinson, joined him on a balcony to smoke the joint, but said the accused had smoked an ordinary cigarette.

Darren Leslie told the jury that his brother had claimed to have tried to kill himself several days earlier and asked him if he could see a red mark around his neck.

A medical Registrar from Antrim Area Hospital told the trial that baby Cameron was “grievously ill” when he was brought to the A&E on the morning of September 4, 2008.

Dr Andrew Dobbin said Cameron was having difficulty breathing and his father told him he had noticed problems throughout the night including vomiting and abnormal head movements. The doctor said he would have expected anyone who had seen the problems to have contacted the emergency services earlier.

“A delay in presentation can sometimes be indicative of non-accidental injury,” said Dr Dobbin.

A nurse, Sister Briege Conlon, told the court that a CT scan revealed bleeding in the baby’s brain and bruises were found on Cameron’s back. She said that Social Services were then called.

On Tuesday (January 18), the court heard from pathologist, Professor Archibald Malcolm, who explained how he noted 14 fractures to the baby’s ribcage.

He said the broken ribs may have been caused by “severe gripping or squeezing.”

Stating that the fractures had been caused between seven and ten days before Cameron died, Professor Malcolm told the court that most injuries of that kind were “non-accidental.”

The case continues and is expected to last several more weeks.