Girl `could have removed vital tube'

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The Independent Online
A severely handicapped 14-month-old girl, whose mother is accused of murdering her, was strong enough to pull out a life-saving breathing tube by herself, a doctor told a court yesterday.

Julie Watts, 31, is accused of killing her brain-damaged daughter, Abigail, in hospital by removing the tracheotomy tube from the little girl's throat. But a paediatrician, Dr Robert Downes, told Manchester Crown Court: "She was strong enough to pick up a toy and move it around. I think her grip was strong enough to pull out a tracheotomy tube."

The trial has heard that staff at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital heard Watts shout for help and found her daughter collapsed with the tube removed. She died in intensive care at the hospital.

Watts, a psychiatric nurse of Little Hulton, Salford, Greater Manchester, pleads not guilty to her daughter's murder.