Man guilty of killing ex-partner's infant child

Wed, May 16, 2012, 01:00

A MAN has been found guilty of killing his ex-fiancee’s 3½-month-old baby seven years ago.

Philip Doyle (34) of Tinakilly, Aughrim, Co Wicklow, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Ross Murphy at Creagh Demesne, Gorey, Co Wexford, on April 5th, 2005.

But following a court ruling last week, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy directed the jury to acquit him of murder and to consider a verdict of manslaughter.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of manslaughter after deliberating for just over three hours following the four-week trial.

The judge thanked the jury after what he described as an upsetting trial in many ways, before excusing them from serving further for a period of 10 years.

No application was made for bail, and Doyle was remanded in custody for sentencing on July 2nd.Sentencing was adjourned to allow for the baby’s mother, Leona Murphy, who is expecting her third child on June 10th, to be present at the hearing and for preparation of a victim-impact statement.

Doyle, a painter and decorator, was minding the baby at the home he shared with Ms Murphy while she went out to get a DVD on April 3rd, 2005.

The jury heard the baby was initially taken to Wexford General Hospital on March 31st, 2005, because he was “lifeless” and getting sick on the bed.

The child was kept in for observation because of a rash on his neck and released on Sunday April 3rd, but returned to the hospital that evening.

He was rushed to the children’s hospital in Crumlin in the early hours of the following morning but died from brain trauma the next day.

Doyle started dating Ms Murphy when she was seven months pregnant; they began living together in January 2005 and subsequently became engaged.

The infant was born in December 2004, and Doyle asked Ms Murphy for his name to be put on the baby’s birth certificate as the father.

The court heard that when she refused he contacted the births registry in Waterford, who told him it could not be done.

Defence counsel said the child’s death was an accident, that Doyle fell on the wooden floor of the living room while holding the baby in his arms.

The prosecution said the accused’s defence was predicated on a lie, and that the child’s injuries were inflicted by Doyle and he caused the infant’s death.

The court heard the accused altered an account he gave in a witness statement in which he said the baby did not fall while he was minding him on the evening of April 3rd.

Three weeks later he changed his story in an interview, telling gardaí he fell while holding the infant.

State pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy said there was deep bruising consistent with the trunk being firmly gripped and that haemorrhages inside the eyes “highly suggested a shaking incident”.

The injury to the forehead had a patterned or textured appearance. And the child’s head could have been struck against a similarly patterned surface such as a carpet or sofa, Prof Cassidy told the court.

The charge of murder was reduced to manslaughter following an application by the defence.

Speaking outside the court the baby’s aunt, Adele Murphy, said the family was satisfied justice had been served.

“There are no winners here today. We still walk away without our little baby boy but it is good to finally get justice for him.

“We love and will always miss Ross and it is heartbreaking he’s not with us, even more heartbreaking now knowing the injuries he received.

“We are a strong family unit and together we will find our way back to normality as it is now.

“We find peace knowing that he is resting safe and peacefully in the arms of God and his angels.

“We would also like to thank everybody for the support over the last seven years.”