Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009

Medics 'battled to save toddler'

Brandon Muir
Bruises were found on 23-month-old Brandon Muir's body

A jury has heard of the battle to save the life of the Dundee toddler whose mother is accused of killing him.

Brandon Muir, who was 23-months-old, was pronounced dead at Ninewells Hospital on 16 March last year.

The High Court in Glasgow was told that an abdominal trauma had ruptured Brandon's intestine causing him to die.

Robert Cunningham, 23, denies murdering the boy. Brandon's mother, Heather Boyd, denies culpable homicide by failing to get him medical treatment.

'Brown vomit'

The court heard that a team of medics tried to save Brandon but were unsuccessful.

Charge nurse Karen Ferguson told the jury that she received a phone call from paramedics at about 0445 GMT on 16 March saying they were bringing in a one-year-old boy who was in cardiac arrest and had brown vomit coming out of his mouth.

She said a team in the hospital tried to resuscitate him. They put him on a ventilator and tried to restart his heart.

She told the court that when medical staff made a closer examination of Brandon's body and took off his nappy they found bruising around his groin.

She said when Ms Boyd and Mr Cunningham were told that Brandon had died they both burst into tears.

Post mortem

The court also heard from consultant paediatric pathologist Dr Alan Howatson who carried out an examination on the toddler at Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children after he had died.

He said blunt force abdominal trauma ruptured the intestine which caused fatal acute peritonitis.

The doctor told the jury that the area of the injury would have been "compressed" against the spine before bursting.

He added that this was consistent with "force from the front".

Dr Howatson added: "The contents leak and that irritation produces inflammation."

Prosecutor James Wolffe QC asked: "Able to express an opinion on the length of time that passed from acute injury to time of death?"

He replied: "To get the inflammation as obvious then 12 to 24 hours is not an unreasonable assumption, but I cannot be more precise than that."

It was not my child. I would not want someone rubbing their noses in my business
Lesley Ann Ross

The pathologist - who will return to the witness box on Tuesday - also said there was evidence that there had been a previous injury at the site.

Earlier, the court heard from Lesley Ann Ross, who was at Mr Cunningham's sister's flat with the couple and Brandon the night before he died.

The jury was told about her statement to police in which she said she saw Mr Cunningham "slap" the toddler on the face.

She also claimed he "shouted" at Brandon not to move while they were in the bathroom and that Mr Cunningham was "whacking" at "something" with a tea towel.

Ms Ross said she had seen Brandon being sick and his eyes were rolling in his head like he was going to faint or collapse.

Mr Wolffe again referred to her police statement where she claimed she wanted to call for help, but Mr Cunningham made it feel as if she would be "interfering."

Miss Ross told the court: "It was not my child. I would not want someone rubbing their noses in my business."

She said Mr Cunningham, her ex-boyfriend, walked her home as it was "not nice" to see Brandon in that state.

The court heard the pair then smoked a cannabis joint and had sex.

Ms Boyd's QC Donald Findlay said: "So, it would appear at that point that he was not that interested in his girlfriend [Ms Boyd] and Brandon?"

She told him: "I would agree."


Mr Cunningham is accused of murder by assaulting Brandon so severely last 15 March at two flats in Balunie Crescent that he died the following day in hospital.

Mr Cunningham and Ms Boyd, 23, also face a charge of repeatedly and wilfully ill-treating Brandon between October 2007 and March 2008.

Ms Boyd is accused of assaulting her son at Douglas Family Centre in Dundee on 5 March last year.

Mr Cunningham is also charged with repeatedly and wilfully ill-treating another young boy at properties in Dundee between October 2007 and March 2008.

The pair deny all charges.

The trial, before Judge John Morris QC, continues.

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