Bruises did not concern grandmother as Millie was 'clumsy'
Published: 17 Oct 2012 16:21
The mother of Rachael Martin, facing charges arising out of the death of her 15-month-old daughter, Millie Martin, has described having "no reason to disbelieve her".
Margaret Graham was giving evidence at the Dungannon Crown Court trial of her 27-year-old daughter, Rachael, and her 33-year-old former lover, Barry McCarney.
Martin, of Main Street, Kesh, is accused of wilfully neglecting and allowing the death of Millie, while McCarney, of Woodview Crescent, Trillick, denies murdering and sexually and physically abusing her.
When Mrs. Graham voiced her support for her daughter, prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy told her she should confine her answers to the evidence and refrain from commenting.
Still later the grandmother agreed with McCarney's defence QC Elis McDermott, that she told police that when she saw a bump on Millie's head she thought the toddler may have fallen downstairs and that her daughter had hidden the fact in case she got "cross".
But Mrs. Graham said that while her daughter would have confessed to her "eventually", she would not have told her initially, as she would given off to her daughter by telling her: "Why did you let that happen?"
Mrs. Graham began her evidence by detailing bruising and bumps she allegedly found on her granddaughter in the months leading up to her death on December 11, 2009.
However, the grandmother told the jury of nine men and three women that she did not have any concerns, because Millie, like her mother and other toddlers, was a clumsy child.
As far back as late October 2009, Mrs. Graham said she'd found a "quite nasty looking ...yellowish -blue bruise" to Millie's right ear, and that her daughter told her that the child had "fallen .... on to the leg of the table at home".
She said that in "the last few weeks" of her granddaughter's life, she had also noticed "finger-tip bruising to her right chest ... yellowish type bruising", but while her daughter had no explanation, she said she had "saw it herself ... but there is nothing unusual for a toddler to have bruises" although she "didn't know what it was".
Mrs. Graham said that while Millie stayed with them at the end of November, Rachael's birthday week-end, she had noticed a bump to the child's head and that her daughter told her "she didn't know how this was happening, but Barry said she must have hit her head off the cot".
"I said she is bound to have cried ... she would have cried with a bump like that," said Mrs. Graham, adding that while her daughter didn't say anything about that "I had no reason to disbelieve her".
Mrs. Graham said the bump never actually went away "so obviously it was hit again and came back up again". On this occasion she said her daughter told her that she had "moved the cot into the middle of the room so that it could not happen again ...... before that the cot had been up against the wall".
On another occasion, Martin had allegedly phoned her mother to tell her about Barry McCarney calling her to Millie's room because she was "blue around her mouth in the cot".
Mrs. Graham said when her daughter went to the child she noticed what "looked like a bump on her head ... and Barry's reply to that was ...Oh 'F' I didn't even see that".
During the week-end stay-over, Mrs. Graham said she also noticed Millie was "a lighter sleeper ... easily wakened", but that unlike before, when Millie did wake she "made no effort to get up from under her quilt" and just lay on her back in her cot.
Once in the kitchen the child had taken a tumble and although she had only "fallen down on her bottom... she cried sore, she cried sore ... I thought she was crying a lot for all she had done ...she had fallen down on her bottom ... it wasn't a big fall or anything".
She also noticed that her granddaughter appeared to be partly off her food, and that Rachael explained that Millie was sometimes a fussy eater, but that, "Barry only had to appear and stand behind me and Millie would eat her dinner".
In the week leading to Millie's death, Mrs. Graham said she was changing her nappy and noticed "a mark or a bruise or something yellowie in her private area", and had broached the matter with her daughter.
Martin allegedly told her that "she had no reason for it....she thought she had fallen or something".
Later while being cross-examined by Ms McDermott, Mrs. Graham said she "wasn't concerned myself about it ... Millie wasn't crying or doing anything to lead me to believe something was wrong".
She also claimed that a child of Millie's age "gets knocks all the time especially a clumsy child".
On the Tuesday of that week, Mrs. Graham said she also noticed that while the child "didn't make a cry" when she was lifted up, she did wince up her face.
When she mentioned this to her daughter, she too said she'd "noticed that myself". However, Mrs. Graham added, that her daughter "like myself thought that she had fallen over as a clumsy wee girl".
On the morning before she was rushed to hospital, Mrs. Graham said she was told Millie was "not too well .... she must have a dose of the flu .... that Barry had come home from work and that it must be the same thing as he had".
Martin also told her mother that Millie "would probably pick up through the day", but that when she saw the child "she was extremely drowsy and not well ... one eye in particular was almost closed ... very heavy looking .... it looked as if the child had a terrible, terrible dose".
Her daughter also allegedly told her that "Barry wanted to keep Millie, but I didn't let him".
Mrs. Graham, said that Millie looked "just so ill and pitiful looking".
Around 8.40 that evening, Mrs. Graham said she was out shopping when she got a call from Barry McCarney telling her "come quickly, Rachael wants you up at the hospital ... Millie's not well, or words to that effect". Her daughter then came on the phone pleaded: "please come up .. or words to that effect".
At the hospital Barry McCarney told her that he had gone to check on Millie .. "that he saw her taking a breath, then she wasn't breathing .... she was in her cot ..... he said he took her out and tried mouth to mouth, and I think he said something about putting her down on the floor and then he just took her to the hospital".
She added later that at one stage he disappeared for about 15 minutes, but returned with two of Millie's soft toys.
Earlier yesterday, Dr. David Mitchell, who treated Millie for a burn to her right finger claimed the child's mother said she had burnt it on a hot-plate in the kitchen.
However, when asked directly by trial judge, Mr. Justice Stephens, Dr. David Mitchell, admitted he had no "actual note" of this.
The court has already heard that Martin told others, including doctors, Millie had burnt her finger on a candle.
And later when told by Martin's defence QC John McCrudden that Martin had "no recollection" of making such a remark, Dr. Mitchell replied: "There is no mention, record on these notes (hospital notes) of the mechanism of this injury."
The trial continues.