York baby-shaking trial: Jury hears from medical expert

Gemma O'Donnell

Gemma O'Donnell

Updated in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , richard.catton@thepress.co.uk

THE trial of a York woman accused of killing her baby has heard today that he had "features consistent with a brain injury".

The fourth day of Gemma O'Donnell's manslaughter trial heard evidence from paediatric consultants who saw baby Leighton in the weeks and days leading up to the tragedy in December 2010, when he died aged 20 weeks.

Leeds Crown Court was told that O'Donnell, 27, called 999 on the morning of November 29 after her son appeared to stop breathing for a short period, then began gasping for breath.

She administered emergency CPR before ambulance crews took over and Leighton was transferred to York Hospital.

Dr William O'Hare, a consultant at Leeds General Infirmary, was on call at the time to deal with any suspected child welfare issues.

He said a CT scan uncovered "swelling and bleeding on the brain."

He said: "Mr Long, a consultant ophthalmologist, examined Leighton's eyes and found extensive haemorrhaging and bleeding behind the eyes."

He said results showed no abnormalities to account for the bleeding, and no blood disorder.

"There were a number of injuries consistent with an inflicted brain injury," he said. "I informed social care and police that Leighton had been the victim of an inflicted brain injury."

Mr O'Hare said there was no "iron-clad proof" in the conditions.
Earlier, consultant paediologist Elizabeth Baker, who had cared for Leighton in the weeks after his birth, told of a list of medical conditions he had suffered due to being born prematurely.

It was discovered he had a hole in his heart, though that was expected to heal on its own. He also suffered an infection of the upper airway and had to be hooked to an alarm at home at night because he was prone to stop breathing for periods of time in his sleep.

His breathing problems also meant he needed regular oxygen.

Under police questioning following her arrest, O'Donnell, of Bright Street, off Leeman Road in York, said she had been overjoyed to take Leighton home following his time in hospital after the birth and that she was not finding looking after him difficult or stressful.

She said nobody else had been left alone with her son apart from a friend who babysat for him on the evening of November 27. When O'Donnell returned home she said "all was well" and that Leighton had fed.

The case continues on Tuesday.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree