Bessbrook toddler attempted murder accused has similar previous conviction
A man accused of the attempted murder of a two-year-old girl in Bessbrook has previously been convicted of a similar offence, a recent bail hearing has heard.
Darren Fagan (25) from Portadown is alleged to have caused injuries to the child – which have resulted in brain damage – when she was assaulted in her Bessbrook home on 19th October last year.
Police objected to the accused’s bail application on Wednesday when he appeared before Newry Magistrates Court via video-link from Maghaberry prison.
During the hearing the court heard how Fagan has “an extensive history of domestic violence” and a conviction for assault on the 20-month-old child of a former partner.
Opposing his latest bail application, Detective Constable Lewis described how a police patrol found the “lifeless” little girl “outside the property, not breathing”.
An officer performed CPR and emergency first aid until paramedics arrived but the alleged attack has left the child with permanent brain damage.
The court heard how the child’s mother told police that Fagan “was punching” her daughter.
Initially the child taken to Daisy Hill Hospital but was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where she was put into a medically induced coma when doctors discovered she had sustained multiple skull fractures and was suffering bleeding onto her brain.
The officer told the court that an MRI scan showed “marked areas of brain damage” and expert reports have indicated that the little girl had suffered “permanent injuries”.
The child’s mother told police her daughter had been “in good form” but had become unsettled when she was put to bed. After going to the kitchen for medicine, the mother said she noticed that Fagan was no longer in the living room and as she went upstairs her daughter “stopped crying” and she heard a “sudden noise…like a thud”.
The officer added: “She said that within three seconds of hearing the thud she was in the room and saw the defendant standing up, crouched over her daughter’s bed. She had described noticing a large lump on the left side of her head.
“She shouted at him, ‘Oh my God you’ve hit her’, and the defendant replied ‘no, it’s not what it looks like’.”
Arrested and interviewed eight times, Fagan claimed he had been in the living room and saw the little girl falling down the stairs. The detective however told the court it was the view of investigating officers there were “numerous discrepancies” in Fagan’s accounts, highlighting that he claimed to have been sitting in two different positions, that the girl had hit the wall and the skirting board.
The officer also claimed that Fagan had become so aggressive toward both officers and his own solicitor during interviews that police had to handcuff him.
The PSNI officer highlighted that images taken by a police photographer who visited the scene showed it was not possible to see the stairs from where Fagan claimed he had been, and that medical evidence suggested her injuries were not consistent with a fall but rather a “severe traumatic incident”.
DC Lewis said in addition to medical reports already obtained, the investigation team had instructed an independent consultant paediatric neurosurgeon to give his opinion, which would be available by early August.
He told the court police were objecting to Fagan being released as he might interfere with or intimidate the witnesses.
Fagan’s defence solicitor said he had attended all the interviews, declaring that his client had not been aggressive to him at any stage and criticised delays in the case, condemning the police and PPS for not meeting previously stated targets.
The solicitor claimed that Fagan had been “consistent” in maintaining the little girl had fallen down the stairs and suggested the police were seeking a further report as their evidence to date was “inconclusive”.
When Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare refused the bail application, Fagan himself shouted out that it was “a joke” and stormed from the video-link room.
Remanding Fagan in continuing custody to appear again on July 15, Judge O’Hare said if there were to be another application for bail at the High Court, Fagan’s “lack of respect for the court” should be noted.