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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific