Craigavon man refused bail

There was a sitting of Longford District Court last week.
There was a sitting of Longford District Court last week.

A two-year-old girl whose skull fractures were allegedly inflicted in an attempt to kill her has suffered “permanent injuries”, the High Court has heard.

The child was injured in a house in Bessbrook last October.

Prosecutors said the child is likely to develop epilepsy and cannot currently walk without help.

The disclosure came as bail was refused to a man charged with attempting to murder the toddler at her home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh.

Darren Fagan, 24, denies the allegations, claiming instead that she was dropped while being carried up stairs by her mother.

But ordering him to remain in custody, Mr Justice Deeny said: “This is an utterly unmeritorious application for bail.”

Fagan, of Clonavon Avenue in Portadown, was arrested after the little girl was discovered in a “lifeless” condition on 19 October last year.

A police patrol had been flagged down and told she was outside the house and had stopped breathing.

Officers performed emergency first aid until an ambulance crew arrived, the court heard.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, said the mother told police Fagan had assaulted her daughter by punching her.

On being detained inside the property he replied: “I didn’t do nothing.”

He was said to have first met the girl’s mother through Facebook and travelled to stay at her home that weekend.

She claimed he had been drinking when the alleged incident occurred after her daughter had been put to bed.

According to her account, the child was unsettled and crying as she looked for medicine.

The mother claimed to have heard a sudden noise like a thud and seconds later seeing Fagan crouched over her daughter’s bed.

“The child wasn’t moving and there was a large lump to the side of her head,” Mrs McKay said.

Detailing the extent of the little girl’s injuries, the barrister said that she sustained multiple fractures and bleeding on the brain.

She had to be put in a medically induced coma and spent two months being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

“I understand that she has suffered permanent injuries and it’s likely she will develop epilepsy,” Mrs McKay told the court.

“She also has difficulty moving, she can’t walk unaided.”

During police interviews, Fagan claimed the girl’s mother fell from the stairs while holding her daughter.

He also alleged that the woman had been drinking and taking drugs that day.

At one stage, he claimed she had been smoking a joint as she carried the child upstairs.

Describing his blaming of the mother as a “cut-throat type defence”, Mrs McKay said expert evidence will be used to establish the “mechanics” of the incident.

But with such a report expected to take another eight weeks, it was conceded that any trial is unlikely to start until the autumn.

Fagan’s legal team based their bail application on the alleged delay in the case.

Aaron Thompson, defending, also contended that his client has mental health issues which have been “magnified” by being held on remand in Maghaberry Prison on the attempted murder charge.

“He has to face a particular spotlight in a custody environment that’s an abhorrent allegation to face,” Mr Thompson said.

“He adamantly denies it and is desperate to advance the case to trial to defend himself.”

However, Mr Justice Deeny said it would be “ridiculous” to suggest any rebuke of the prosecution for delays in the case.

“It’s a well-known fact that sometimes doctors take longer rather than lesser time to produce their reports,” he pointed out.

Refusing bail, the judge added: “It’s only because of the intervention of the police and ambulance (staff) no doubt that this child survived at all, but with very grave injuries.”