Baby's eye injuries showed extreme force, court told

The baby whom British nanny Louise Woodward is accused of murdering was shaken or slammed down with a force equal to being hit by a lorry or train, her trial heard yesterday.

Matthew Eappen's eye injuries showed extreme force had been used on him - equalling nine on a scale of severity from one to 10, eye specialist Lois Smith told the court.

Dr Smith was giving evidence in the Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as the trial of 19-year-old Ms Woodward, of Elton, near Chester, entered its second week.

Dr Smith, an ophthalmologist, told the prosecuting lawyer, Gerry Leone, that she had seen "many hundreds" of cases of accidental trauma in children. The type of haemorrhages found in nine-month-old Matthew's eyes was "very, very rarely" seen in accident cases - in fewer than 1 per cent.

"It was seen in a case of a child in a baby carriage that was hit by a truck, but never in what we call household accidental trauma," she said. "It is a very extreme amount of force that is required, such as being hit by a train or falling from five storeys."

Dr Smith said the injuries would have to be inflicted by a combination of severe shaking and impact. They were caused minutes or only up to an hour or two before the baby was admitted to Boston's Children's Hospital on 4 February. He died in a coma five days later.

Ms Woodward denies first degree murder, which carries a life sentence without parole.

The prosecution alleges that Ms Woodward shook the child and slammed his head against a hard surface in a rage because she was frustrated by his crying and fed up with working for Matthew's parents, Deborah and Sunil Eappen, of Newton, near Boston.

But the defence claims the baby's massive brain injuries could have arisen from an undetected skull fracture, which was suffered earlier and probably accidental.

Dr Smith said yesterday that she believed all Matthew's injuries were suffered at the same time. If the injuries had been present earlier, the baby would not have appeared normal, could not have been fed earlier on the day he was killed and would not have been able to cry normally.

If the injuries had been present earlier, Matthew would have had breathing problems and would have appeared comatose soon after he was injured.

Dr Smith agreed that folds in the retina associated with impact injuries had not been noted on a drawing by a doctor who examined the baby on his admission to hospital. She saw them when she examined the eyes after Matthew's death.

Barry Scheck, for the defence, asked her if it was a fundamental part of her testimony that the first doctor's drawing was wrong and that he had missed the folds and haemorrhages.

She replied: "Yes."

Mr Scheck asked: "If you are right about the mechanics of how these folds happened, that should have been in?"

She said: "He should have drawn it, yes."

Later she agreed with Mr Scheck that "the doctor just didn't draw what was there".

Mr Scheck asked her about the force of the impact the baby must have suffered and her comparison to that of a baby carriage being hit by a car or truck. Dr Smith said: "I said if it was just impact it would have to be that kind of force. With a combination it is different. You can get these injuries from shaking alone."

The case continues.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SECONDARY SUPPLY TEACHERS NEEDED IN AND AROUND SWALE

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Description Randstad Education i...

Geography Teacher, full time supply role, Thanet Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The School Randstad are proud to...

Science Teacher, full time supply role, Thanet Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The School Randstad are proud to...

English Teacher, full time supply role, Isle of Sheppey

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job: Our client school is lo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week