A broken arm and a broken rib, suffered by a baby boy while in the care of a South Yorkshire firefighter, were ‘non-accidental’ injuries in the opinion of a senior surgeon, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Fireman Lewis Mills, aged 28, would have had to apply ‘significant’ force to the four-month-old’s arm, including a ‘twisting’ or ‘snapping’ motion, to account for the broken bone, jurors were told.
The boy was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in March 2012, where it was revealed the baby also had a healing broken rib.
Mills could initially offer no explanation for the broken arm – but five days later told doctors he might have ‘squashed’ the baby when bending to pick up a bottle.
Consultant surgeon Sanjeev Madon said that, while that explanation could be feasible in isolation, it was the combination of the arm and rib injuries, and the lack of any initial explanation, which raised suspicions.
“The fractured arm and rib fracture, considered together, do make the opinion of a non-accidental injury,” he said.
He said Mills would have noticed an immediate response from the child at the time his arm was injured.
“It should have been quite obvious at the time, because a fracture is very painful – the child would be screaming and the arm would be completely limp,” he said.
The surgeon was asked about a video which showed Mills recounting his explanation for the injury.
Mr Madon said: “If there was a lot of force, it could cause such a fracture. But it would have to be very forceful, and the arm would have to be bent quite significantly before it fractured.”
Asked if enough force could be applied in the scenario of Mills’ explanation, he said ‘it could be’.
Felicity Davies, prosecuting, asked: “Is it your opinion that Mills’ explanation caused the break of the arm?”
Mr Madon replied: “If the force is considerable, it can explain the break in the arm.”
But he went on to add the explanation did not account for the situation ‘as a whole’.
He added: “It’s an opinion that it’s a non-accidental injury.”
Mills, of Stanley Road, Chapeltown, Sheffield, denies two charges of cruelty, neglect or wilful assault to a child under the age of 16.
The trial continues.