Not proven verdict on man accused of Kirkcaldy baby assault

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court
Pic Neil Hanna
Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court Pic Neil Hanna

A not proven verdict was yesterday given by a jury on a man accused of assaulting a weeks-old baby “to the danger of his life.”

Stephen Graham (27), denied squeezing the three-week-old boy’s torso, repeatedly shaking him and throwing him onto a hard surface to his severe injury and to the danger of his life at an address in Kirkcaldy between April 20 and 28, 2014.

Ronnie Hay, fiscal depute, told the court that scans after the baby’s admission to hospital on April 28 showed a left-sided skull fracture, multiple fractured ribs, bruising on the chest wall, bruising on the scalp and some bleeding on the brain.

Dr Peter Richards, a consultant neurosurgeon with almost 40 years’ experience, agreed with Mr Hay’s assertion that the injuries could be described as “extensive”, and said the “only plausible” explanation was some sort of head injury.

He added: “What we know from everyday life is that normal handling doesn’t fracture skulls.”

Mr Hay asked if the injuries were indicative of a “spontaneous, single event” rather than “prolonged abuse”.

Dr Richards agreed and said that his experience was that the injuries could have been caused by “someone stressed, tired” and someone who had “lost it.”

Asked by Mr Hay if it was his opinion the child had been shaken at some point and struck a hard surface, Dr Richards replied: “I think it’s likely – that would tie everything together.”

Dr Richards also told the court that he believed the injuries could have happened up to two or three days before the child’s hospital admission on the Monday, although he admitted under questioning from defence advocate Chris Fyffe that trying to ascertain timescales was a “relatively speculative” process.

Graham had denied attacking the child – entering a special defence of incrimination of a woman who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Following a five-day trial before Sheriff Alat Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court a jury found the charge of assault to severe injury and the danger of life not proven.