Client charged with aggravated assault against his 6 month old child. Allegation of severe shaking to the child causing subdural haematoma and retina hemorrages. Evidence of client’s confession to hurting the child admitted into evidence as well as evidence of previous bone injuries. Crown expert witnesses testified that the only reasonable conclusion is that this was a case of what is known as “shaken baby syndrome.” Defence expert witness questioned the validity of much of the alleged science behind this theory of causation and provided an opinion that the client’s explanation of the child’s toddler hitting the baby on the head with a plastic toy was consistent with the injuries suffered by the child. Child suffered from Down’s syndrome and had a heart defect which had the potential, particularly when the child was upset as she was from the toy hitting her, of causing high spikes in her blood pressure which in turn could have caused the brain injury.
Held: Acquitted. Court found the accused’s testimony capable of raising a reasonable doubt about his guilt when viewed within the entirety of the physical and medical evidence.
Court found of particular import the defence expert’s opinion concerning the heart defect and its potential to cause blood pressure spikes. Notwithstanding one Crown expert challenging the accuracy of blood pressure tests taken by EMS and hospital staff in proximity to the injury, the Court found that 5 very high test results taken by 3 different health care professionals was uncontradicted evidence of blood pressure spikes that it could not ignore, and which provided a reasonable alternative mechanism for the child’s injuries.