Expert suggests fatally-injured toddler's body was shutting down hours before he arrived at hospital

An expert has stated a fatally-injured toddler’s temperature suggested his body had been shutting down for three-to-four hours before he was taken to hospital.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 11:50 am

A Sheffield Crown Court trial has heard how Sarah O’Brien, aged 33, of Bosworth Road, Doncaster, and her partner Martin Currie, aged 36, of no fixed abode, have denied murdering Ms O’Brien’s two-year-old son Keigan O’Brien after he died from head injuries on January 9.

Detective Sergeant Nicola Marsh said a hospital doctor reiterated an account of events that Sarah O’Brien had taken Keigan’s siblings to school on January 8 and she returned about 9am and Martin Currie checked on Keigan about 11am and found him face down and an ambulance was called.

Professor Marta Cohen, a consultant pathologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who conducted a post-mortem on Keigan with a Home Office pathologist, confirmed she did not find any natural causes in his death and other experts have described the youngster’s death as “non-accidental”.

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Pictured is toddler Keigan O'Brien, of Doncaster, who was allegedly murdered by his mother Sarah O'Brien and her partner Martin Currie after the two-year-old suffered head injuries in January.

Prof Cohen said she understood Keigan’s body temperature to have fallen from a normal 37 degrees celsius to 29.1 degrees celsius by the time he was admitted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary at around 11.25am.

She explained such a dramatic drop in temperature would take at least three-to-four hours from the time when the body begins to collapse and not necessarily from the time when he may have sustained an injury.

Prof Cohen said: “The temperature was significantly low. It dropped from approximately 37 to 29.1 given the information.”

She added: “The time of the collapse or shock is not necessarily the time of injury. It could be afterwards. It’s when his body starts shutting down.”

Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, has heard how Sarah O’Brien, aged 33, of Bosworth Road, Doncaster, and her partner Martin Currie, aged 36, of no fixed abode, have denied murdering Ms O’Brien’s two-year-old son Keigan O’Brien in January after he died from head injuries.

Kath Goddard QC, defending Sarah O’Brien, said Prof Cohen’s previous statement had referred to “several hours” and not “three-to-four hours” referred to in court, and she added that another clinician had recorded the temperature on arrival at hospital as 29.7 celsius.

Christopher Tehrani, defending Martin Currie, argued the removal of clothing would have contributed to a loss of temperature.

Sarah O’Brien and Martin Currie have also denied causing cruelty to a child by ill-treatment or neglect, and both also deny individual counts of causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.

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