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Third retrial of Cavan childminder accused of harming baby collapses

The defence team was “potentially hamstrung” over emails between expert witnesses on the case.

File photo
File photo
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

THE THIRD RETRIAL of a Cavan childminder accused of causing serious harm to a baby has collapsed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Sandra Higgins (37) of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Cavan, had pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to a baby girl at the accused’s home on March 28, 2012.

It is the State’s case that the baby’s injuries, which included bruising and swelling on her head and face, bleeding on the brain and detached retinas in both eyes, were inflicted by Higgins.

Today, Judge Pauline Codd explained that an issue arose during legal argument in the absence of the jury.

She explained that through “no wilful action” by gardaí or anybody else, email communications between expert witnesses in the case were not passed on to the defence.

The judge said as a result she was satisfied there was a reasonable doubt the accused could not get a fair trial.

She said generally there is no difficulty with expert witnesses contacting each other, so long as the defence knows about it. The judge said fair trial procedure means the defence is entitled to have all information beforehand.

She told the jury that in this case, the defence team was “potentially hamstrung” and impeded in properly preparing their cross-examination.

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She said it is up to the Director of Public Prosecutions to see whether to bring the case to trial again, but if so it will be before another jury.

Judge Codd thanked jury members before discharging them from their civic duty. She remanded Higgins on continuing bail for a mention date in another court in July.

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Aoife Nic Ardghail

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