Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Bruises found on dead boy's body

Brandon Muir
Brandon Muir died on 16 March last year

Doctors examining the dead body of a Dundee toddler found extensive bruising and scratching, a court has heard.

Brandon Muir, who was 23-months old, also looked dehydrated and his eyes were sunken into his head.

Robert Cunningham, 23, denies murdering the boy. Brandon's mother Heather Boyd, also 23, denies culpable homicide.

The High Court in Glasgow also heard that the pair could have been under the influence of drugs at the hospital where the boy died on 16 March.

Brandon was pronounced dead at Ninewells Hospital after falling ill at his home in Balunie Crescent.

Dr Rosalie Wilkie, 56, told the jury: "He had three small bruises on his face, which appeared to be not absolutely fresh. He had some scratches on his nose and fingers and extensive bruising on his body."

The doctor added that the bruising found was "unusual" for a child to have "in an innocent point of view".

She also told the court his stomach area was "firm" on examination.

Dr Wilkie said: "He apparently had a history that he had been vomiting brown fluid for several hours and had been sleepy the day before.

"This made me concerned something serious had happened in the child's abdomen."

Dr Wilkie met with Ms Boyd and Mr Cunningham soon after the child was pronounced dead.

If you see pin-point pupils, I think there may be some effect from opiate drugs, but it is non specific
Dr Rosalie Wilkie
She found Ms Boyd had "pin-point pupils" and "slurred speech".

Dr Wilkie told the jury that the mother's answers were "exceedingly vague" and did not give a "very clear picture" of what happened before Brandon was admitted to hospital.

She asked about the bruises and was told that Brandon and his sister fought a lot and he scratched himself often.

"I gave mum and the partner time to tell me anything else, but nothing was forthcoming," Dr Wilkie said.

Prosecutor James Wolffe QC asked could any inference be drawn from the appearance of Ms Boyd's eyes.

Dr Wilkie said: "If you see pin-point pupils, I think there may be some effect from opiate drugs, but it is non specific."

The doctor also later claimed that Mr Cunningham had "pin-point pupils" when she met him that morning.

Earlier, the trial was told that a man was heard shouting loudly in Ms Boyd's flat the day it is alleged the toddler was attacked.

Marlene Watt, a neighbour, said: "It was not right, it was really strong. It was different and really loud. It would not stop and just kept going on and on."

The 39-year-old said that "nothing was coming back at him".

The court also heard that Ms Boyd had once told a child that she would sell him.

Joseph Hepburn told the court that he was a regular visitor to the home of one of Ms Boyd's neighbours.

Mr Wolffe asked if he had heard anything at the flat: "Just Heather shouting at the bairn, more or less."

Mr Wolffe asked: "How did you know it was the child?"

Mr Hepburn replied: "Things she said. The main one that I remember was the way that she swore at the bairn and [said] that the child was going to be sold."

Medical help

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

Ms Boyd is charged with culpable homicide by failing to get her son medical help as a result of Mr Cunningham's alleged assault.

The pair 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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