Man jailed over baby manslaughter
A man who has been found guilty of killing his ex-fiancee’s three-and-a-half-month-old baby seven years ago has been sentenced to 11 years.
Philip Doyle (34) of Tinakilly, Aughrim, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Ross Murphy at Creagh Demesne, Gorey, Co Wexford on April 5th, 2005.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy directed the jury to acquit him of murder and to consider a verdict of manslaughter as he ruled the prosecution had not made a case the jury could find, without reasonable doubt, that Doyle had murdered the infant.
The jury of six men and five women returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of manslaughter after just over three hours of deliberation following the four-week trial.
Mr Justice McCarthy said “it was a serious case of assault manslaughter on a child.
Significant violence was inflicted over a period of time and the deceased was a helpless child.”
“The accused persisted in lying in the circumstances of the injuries suffered (by Ross) and the lies aggravate this homicide in many ways,” he continued.
He said the letter of apology written by Doyle to the family of Ross cannot benefit the case as Doyle “does not even now accept the truth and his apology is of no worth.”
Last week, Detective Garda Joe Sullivan told prosecuting counsel Paul Carroll BL, that Doyle, a painter and decorator, was minding the baby at the home he shared with its mother, Leona Murphy, while she went out to get a DVD on April 3rd, 2005.
Ross was initially taken to Wexford General Hospital on March 31st, 2005 because he was ‘lifeless’ and getting sick on the bed.
He was kept in for observation because of a rash on his neck and released on Sunday April 3rd but returned to hospital that evening.
He was rushed to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin in the early hours of the next morning but died the next day of brain trauma.
The defence said the death was an accident and that Doyle fell on the wooden floor of the living room while holding the baby in his arms.
The prosecution said Doyle’s defence was based on a lie, that the injuries to the child were inflicted by him and caused the infant’s death.
The court heard Doyle changed from an account he gave in a witness statement saying the baby did not fall while he was minding him on the evening of April 3rd.
Three weeks later he then changed his story in an interview, telling gardaí he fell while holding the infant.
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy gave evidence during the trial she concluded the baby died from brain trauma from which he would not have recovered.
Prof Cassidy said such trauma would not be expected to occur in a not yet mobile child without some explanation.
She 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.
Mr Justice McCarthy said, in sentencing Doyle to 11 years, that there was no mitigating factors in this case and the sentence is not an “exercise in vengence” but that it ranked in the 10 to 12 year category.