Blood tests destroyed
Failure to follw NHS protocol to determine infection
Opthalmologist stated : “No opthalmologist can look at this child’s eyes and know absolutely sure that this is a case of shaking.”
Man accused of shaking 11-week-old baby is cleared
after three year ordeal
By Aislinn Simpson
Published: 7:00AM GMT 18 Feb 2009
Supermarket worker Stuart Bailey, 41, was accused by prosecutors of shaking the child with “catastrophic consequences” when she would not stop crying as he gave her a bath.
He insisted he had done nothing wrong, with his lawyers saying the case against him was “very seriously flawed” and based on mistakes by doctors.
On Tuesday a judge at Sheffield Crown Court ordered his case to be thrown out after 10 days of prosecution evidence after it emerged that doctors had only found evidence the baby could have been shaken during a later examination.
Doctors also failed to follow NHS protocol by carrying out a lumbar puncture test that would have identified whether the baby had an infection.
Mr Bailey’s barrister told the court her injuries, which have left her blind, deaf and severely disabled, could have been caused by an infection.
A blood test was taken but the results were destroyed once Mr Bailey was charged with child cruelty.
The case coincides with fresh doubts being raised about the “triad” of injuries used by doctors to diagnose “shaken baby syndrome” – bleeding on the brain and retinas, swelling of the brain and oxygen deficiency.
A team of researchers led by staff at Bart’s and The London NHS Trust looked at 55 babies who died of brain haemorrhages either before birth or shortly afterwards. They concluded the symptoms are common in newborns and could be caused by genetic conditions or by a traumatic birth.
In Mr Bailey’s case, the baby was born on May 7, 2005 and suddenly collapsed on July 21, 2005 while in Mr Bailey’s care.
Mr Bailey and the mother took the baby by car to Barnsley District Hospital before she was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for specialist treatment. Her ventilator was eventually turned off in the intensive care unit at Sheffield Children’s Hospital but unusually, she survived.
Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said the baby’s injuries were caused by non-accidental shaking and the baby’s head going backwards and forwards. He said “It was a repeated shaking of the baby with force.”
The prosecution experts included Dr Christopher Ritty, a consultant paediatric neurologist at the Children’s Hospital.
He said: “I felt that it was overwhelmingly probable that the girl had suffered this as a result of non-accidental injury, so-called shaken baby syndrome.”
Opthalmic surgeon Richard Gregson from the Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, said “on the balance of probabilities” he thought the injuries were caused by shaking but added: “No opthalmologist can look at this child’s eyes and know absolutely sure that this is a case of shaking.”
The case collapsed after Dr Carlos de Souza, a consultant neurologist from Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, said the notes showed retinal bleeding was only discovered by doctors on the fourth examination of the child.
For that reason, he said he would not be able to say the most likely explanation was shaking.
After an adjournment, the prosecution decided not to offer any more evidence in the case and the jury formally acquitted Mr Bailey on the orders of Judge Michael Murphy.
As Mr Bailey, of Hoyland Common, Barnsley, walked free from court, his solicitor Tim Gaubert said he had lined up seven “eminent doctors” who all had serious concerns about a shaking diagnosis.
He said his client was relieved with the decision, although he was always confident he would be cleared.
He added: “But his relief is tempered by the fact that the child is seriously ill and has lots of health problems.
“She has a very severe brain injury, is blind and cannot feed herself. There are no winners and losers in this case.”
This case has also been covered on The Charles Smith Blog
Quote From Harold Levy
We know from the recently released report of the Goudge Inquiry into Ontario’s pediatric pathology system, that the evidence of the Crown experts, such as Dr. Ritty, can be extremely influential with the jury.
It is therefore frightening to imagine what little chance Mr. Bailey had of being acquitted – if the charge had not been dropped – after the jurors heard Dr. Ritty’s super-confident testimony that it was ” overwhelmingly probable” that she (the 11-week old baby) had non-accidental injuries or shaken baby syndrome.”
Mr. Bailey deserved much better than that from the British criminal justice system;