A police witness at the trial of a man accused of murdering a three-year-old boy has described the defendant as being “restless and tearful” when she arrived at the scene of the death.
The PSNI constable told Derry Crown Court on Monday that the accused was sitting in the living room of the dead boy’s family flat - where he, too, then lived - with a five month old baby girl on his knee.
The witness was giving evidence on the fourth day of the trial of Liam Whoriskey (25), from Glenabbey Gardens in Derry. Whoriskey denies murdering his fiancée’s son Kayden McGuinness, aged 3, in the child’s family flat at Columbcille Court between September 16 and September 17, 2017.
The defendant further denies two charges of cruelty to the boy and, additionally, denies a charge of failing to protect the child. The jurors have already been told that Kayden had sustained 15 non accidental blunt force trauma injuries to his scalp which caused bleeding to and swelling of his brain, resulting in his death.
The PSNI officer told the court that, when she arrived at the scene at 10.13 a.m. on September 17, other officers, as well as paramedics, were already there. Another officer told her the child’s body was in a bed inside the flat.
She went into the bedroom and saw the body of Kayden in his bed. She also saw several marks to the side of the child’s face, the court heard.
The witness said she spoke to the defendant who gave her details about Kayden’s date of birth and about the child’s mother. She said the defendant told her he’d put Kayden to bed at about 7pm the previous evening and, when he went into the bedroom at 9.50am the following morning, Kayden was dead.
The police witness said the defendant told her that, because of a medical condition Kayden had, the child did not feel pain and, at times, possibly enjoyed pain. She told the court members of Kayden’s family then started to arrive at the flat, including his mother Erin McLaughlin.
“She screamed about her baby boy and could she get in to see him”, the officer said.
Asked by defence barrister, Ciaran Mallon QC, if the defendant was acting “like someone who didn’t have a care in the world”, the witness replied, “no”.
She agreed with Mr. Mallon that “there was a pressure cooker of emotion outside the flat”.
Meanwhile, a paramedic tasked to the scene told jurors that, when she went into the child’s bedroom, the child “was cold, he was obviously deceased”.
Mrs. Rosemary Bogle said an ECG was carried out which showed that life was extinct. She said she noticed marks and bruises to the child’s facial area and said that, when she and colleagues left the scene, “we knew it was suspicious circumstances”.
Mrs. Bogle said the defendant was attentive to a baby girl and told her he was the partner of the dead boy’s mother.
“I was concerned that the mother should have been there,” she said. “I told him to ring the mother. I asked him to contact her and he said he couldn’t because he didn’t have a phone. I told him to get somebody else to get her here, to bring her here,” the paramedic said.
Mrs. Bogle said she asked the defendant if he had noticed anything unusual about Kayden when he’d put him to bed the previous evening.
“He said - ‘How the f**k would I know, he was running about like a madman. Just look at the place’. That shocked me. The child was laying in the room and there was no family with him,” she told jurors.
“Who goes out and leaves a child without a contact number? That’s just alien to me,” she added.
A second paramedic said that, at one stage at the scene, he became emotional and had to leave the flat. Roddy Lynch, an emergency medical technician, said his ambulance crew was the second crew to arrive.
He said when he went into the flat he saw the defendant nursing a baby girl on his knees. He said he and a colleague took the baby from the defendant and examined the child but found nothing wrong with her. He said he looked into the bathroom and saw the bath half filled with dirty water.
“I became emotionally upset and, at one stage, I had to leave the flat,” he told the court.
Mr. Lynch said the interaction between the defendant and the baby girl on his knees was “normal behaviour, he was nursing the baby on his knees”.
Another emergency medical technician, Kevin McArdle, said that, when he examined Kayden’s body in the bed, rigor mortis had possibly started to set in.
He said he applied a heart monitor which showed a flat line to indicate no heart activity. Mr. Lynch said he left the bedroom to make way for members of the PSNI.
He went into the living room where the defendant was preparing a bottle for the baby girl. He said the defendant was calm and focused on counting the number of tablespoons of milk powder for the baby’s bottle.
Cross-examined by Mr. Mallon, Mr. McArdle said the defendant seemed “unaffected by the circumstances” in that he was neither hysterical nor emotional but he agreed with Mr. Mallon that the defendant could have been in a state of shock.
Asked by the defence barrister if he had been “affected by the emotional hysteria of this case”, Mr. Lynch replied, “No.”.
The trial continues.