Only luck saved the life of a 13-month-old girl who suffered two fractures to her skull, a forensic neurosurgeon told a court today.
One of the fractures to the rear of her head was depressed and a circular piece of bone narrowly missed trapping the vein which drained blood away from the brain, the surgeon told Dundee Sheriff Court.
Mr Jayaratnam Jayamohan, a consultant at a hospital in Oxford, said the injury was not life-threatening in this case, but added: “That’s from luck.”
He was giving evidence at the trial of Thomas Dunn, of Hamilton, who is accused of placing the baby in a tumble dryer and switching it on, along with two other charges of assaulting the same child over a two-week period.
Mr Jayamohan said he had studied several reports from paediatricians and a radiographer in Dundee, along with the explanation given to doctors and nurses by Dunn of how the baby had possibly fallen forward and hit her head on a pram.
Taking all the factors into account, he said, he had come to the conclusion that the explanation given by Dunn “did not fit with the injuries she sustained.”
He added that the “significant gap” of several hours where she displayed normal behaviour before becoming floppy also did not fit.
He said a fall forward could not have caused a fracture to the side or the rear of the head, and a single blow could not have caused both fractures.
Asked by fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie if they would have required two separate “significant impacts,” he replied: “Yes.”
The fiscal asked if surgery had been required, how would that have been done.
Mr Jayamohan said he would have had to drill through the skull as “they are not soft bones.”
It alleged that on various occasions between April 3, 2015 and January 8, 2018 Dunn assaulted a boy at a house in Arbroath, from birth to the age of 33 months, by pinching his nose and restricting his breathing.
Then, on an occasion between December 18, 2017 and January 8 2018, at the same address, it is alleged that he assaulted the girl, then aged 13 months.
Prosecutors allege that he placed the tot in a tumble dryer and closed the door, causing the machine to activate and the inner drum to rotate to the girl’s severe injury and the danger of her life.
A third charge alleges that between those dates Dunn assaulted the same girl by placing his hand over her mouth and restricting her breathing.
He is finally alleged to have again assaulted the girl to her severe injury and the danger of her life on January 8, 2018.
Dunn, 25, of Comrie Crescent in Hamilton, is said to have repeatedly struck her on the head and body, repeatedly struck her against an unknown object or objects and bit her on the arm.
The trial, before Sheriff Alastair Brown and a jury, continues.