Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Toddler 'had blood at his nose'

Brandon Muir
Brandon Muir was 23 months old when he died

A Dundee toddler was seen with a scab near his eye and dried blood below his nose four days before he died, the High Court in Glasgow has heard.

A health visitor told the court that Brandon Muir's mother, who is accused of killing him, explained that the boy had been injured falling out of bed.

Brandon, who was 23-months-old, died on 16 March last year.

Robert Cunningham, 23, denies murdering him. Brandon's mother, Heather Boyd, denies culpable homicide.

Ms Boyd, also 23, is accused of killing her son by failing to get him medical help after he was allegedly assaulted by Mr Cunningham.

No interaction

The court heard from health visitor Sinead McLaughlin who saw Brandon at his mother's flat in Balunie Crescent on 12 March last year.

The witness said that when she and a colleague entered the home Brandon wanted "lifted up immediately."

Mr Cunningham's QC Ian Duguid asked: "Any interaction between Brandon and his mum?"

Miss McLaughlin replied: "No, he was more interested in myself and my colleague."

"Was that odd?" Mr Duguid asked.

She said: "Yes, Brandon was quite clearly wanting up with us."

You should not hit your kids like that, a hard slap
Nikita Bowman

However, Miss McLaughin said that "health and weight-wise" Brandon was "satisfactory."

The court also heard from Mr Cunningham's former girlfriend Nikita Bowman.

The jury was told that Miss Bowman had reported Ms Boyd to social workers in connection with an alleged assault on Brandon last February.

Mr Duguid asked her: "Why was this worthy of a report?"

She replied: "Well, you should not hit your kids like that, a hard slap."

Miss Bowman denied that her actions had anything to do with the fact that Ms Boyd had become involved with her ex-boyfriend.

Miss Bowman also told the court that Mr Cunningham often shouted at another boy and would swear at him and call him names.

She claimed he would make the child sit against a wall or on the floor for hours at a time

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.

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

This includes an allegation that they used or allowed others to take cannabis and heroin at three properties.

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 Dundee between October 2007 and March 2008.

The pair deny all the charges and the trial continues.

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