Northern Ireland news

Jury discharged in baby murder case

A decision was taken to halt the hearing and discharge the jury

A trial concerning a mother accused of murdering her eight-week-old baby has been halted and the jury discharged.

The hearing commenced last week at Belfast Crown Court where three days of evidence was heard in front of a jury of six men and six women.

The defendant - a 30-year old woman who can't be name for legal reasons - was charged with murdering her baby boy and attempting to murder her two-year-old daughter.

She was arrested after police were called to her Belfast home on the evening of July 27 last year following reports that a woman was suicidal and had threatened to harm her two young children.

Both youngsters were rushed to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and whilst the baby boy died from two stab wounds to his chest, his older sister was successfully treated for a single knife wound.

The defendant has accepted she stabbed the youngsters but denied the two charges, and the jury had been asked to determine what her state of mind was when she attacked her children.

The trial didn't sit for two days due to legal arguments and following further discussions regarding these issues, a decision was taken to halt the hearing and discharge the jury.

Judge Donna McColgan KC addressed the 12 jurors and after she thanked them for their service so far, she revealed they would no longer be needed.

Despite the legal issues being discussed for two full days, the judge said: "The problem is, ladies and gentlemen, that some of the legal issues that have arisen in this case - and as you know it's a very serious case with very serious issues at stake - these legal issues are such that they cannot be resolved within your time frame as jurors.

"Therefore it is with much regret that I'm going to have to discharge you from reaching verdicts in this case.

"The case is going to have to be stopped while these legal issues and technical matters are determined and assessed, and the case will reconvene in front of a different jury whenever all of those matters have been attended to."

Judge McColgan acknowledged that in the three days the case was sitting, the jurors were presented with "difficult and harrowing evidence" which included footage from police body-worn cameras of the immediate aftermath of the fatal incident.

The judge said that as a consequence, she was prepared to exclude the jurors from ever having to sit on a jury again and scheduled a new trial to take place in January 2023.

The defendant was remanded back into custody.

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