The 39-year-old man and 36-year-old woman have pleaded not guilty to two charges of assault causing serious harm to the child and three charges of child cruelty at the family home in Dublin on dates between June 28th and July 2nd, 2019
Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, has told the jury that the child sustained a brain injury that prevents her from normal functioning, and she is likely to need 24 hour care for the rest of her life.
The parents, who are originally from North Africa, cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.
On day three of their trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, another couple who lived in the adjacent apartment to the defendants gave evidence of consistent noise coming through the adjoining wall.
One woman told the trial that for two years up to July 2019 she had on various occasions heard a raised voice and sometimes screaming, and she assumed it to be a woman’s voice. She said it would be heard at various times but more often in the evening.
She said she would normally hear it when she was in a back room of her apartment.
She said in the run-up to July 2nd, 2019, this “certainly seemed to become more frequent”. She said that on the morning of July 2nd she got up around 7am.
She was in the bathroom when she heard high-pitched shouting coming from the other side of the bathroom wall. She said it was unusual because of the different location and struck her as “somewhat more urgent, or panicked” and with “more power” than previously.
She said that on this occasion she heard a second voice and said this was also unusual. She said the second voice was “lower and quiet” and she took it to be a male voice.
She agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending the woman, that the screaming started in general two years earlier. She agreed that the noise was a “sustained scream” and that she had wondered whether there might be some mental health issues.
“I did wonder. If it was their mother, it was slightly odd, it was not sort of screaming you would normally hear,” she testified.
Her partner told the jury that he knew the defendants to see and had assumed they were from the Middle East or North Africa.
He said he heard arguments coming from their apartment and said the noises sounded “quite loud and quite severe” at times.
He stated that he didn’t recognise any language he knew and assumed it to be Arabic. In a statement to gardaí he described hearing a woman “shouting, ranting and raving”.
Members of the Dublin Fire Brigade gave further evidence of attending the apartment on the night of July 2nd in response to a 999 call made by the father. They described finding the child lying down and unresponsive and with apparent bruises and burn marks on her body.
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One officer described the father as “agitated and upset” and said the mother was also upset. Another officer said the mother was distraught and very upset at the scene.
A member of the nursing staff at Temple Street children’s hospital spoke to the parents after the child was brought into the hospital and put on life support.
She told the jury that she heard somebody “getting sick” in the toilet, and told the jury that it wasn’t staff and she “assumed it was mum or dad”.
The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.