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Murder accused took hours to call 999 after toddler found ‘lifeless’ – court

Written by on 07/10/2020

A man accused of murdering his partner’s two-year-old toddler in Doncaster searched “irregular breathing” and “gurgling” on the internet two hours before calling 999 a court has heard.

Keigan O’Brien died on January 9 in hospital after being rushed there the day before as he had been found “lifeless in bed”.

His mother Sarah O’Brien, 33, and her partner Martin Currie, 36 are jointly on trial over his murder at Sheffield Crown Court.

Jurors were told Keigan suffered a brain bleed, possibly from having his head hit against a wall or the floor, and over the previous weeks had suffered a broken spine, broken ribs and a broken arm due to twisting.

But despite efforts by paramedics who were called to the home on January 8 in Bosworth Road, Doncaster he did not survive.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that the couple had previously called Keigan derogatory names in messages to each other.

Floral tributes left outside of the home of Keigan O’Brien in Adwick, Doncaster after being found in cardiac arrest
(Image: PA Media)

The couple both deny murder, alternative charges of causing or allowing the death of a child, and a further charge of child cruelty.

On the morning Keigan was fatally injured, he had been in the care of Currie while O’Brien was out of the house, the court heard.

The couple rang 999 at 10.55am after claiming to have found him not breathing in bed.

Jason Pitter QC, prosecuting, said Currie had searched the internet two hours earlier for terms relating to “irregular breathing”, “being unconscious” and “gurgling”.

One of the results, the prosecution said, was “agonal breathing”, which warned that emergency medical help should be sought immediately.

Mr Pitter said: “It was nearly two hours later that the emergency services were called.

“One explanation for that delay is that they knew full well that Keigan was struggling, they knew full well what had happened, they knew what was wrong with him.

“They anticipated there would be no obvious longer-term consequences, they were wrong.”

Later examination found blood spatters on the wall by Keigan’s high chair, not from the time he was fatally injured, and on Currie’s clothes, the prosecution said.

The couple claimed Keigan was found unresponsive in bed, and did not explain how he had come by his injuries.

Mr Pitter said: “You can conclude they were covering for each other, knowing they were both responsible to a high degree.”

The court heard that O’Brien and Currie got together in July 2019 and after a short time he moved in with the family.

O’Brien and Currie got together in July 2019, and Mr Pitter told jurors: “You will hear evidence of her being warned against forming a relationship, of him not being any good for her – warnings she ignored.”

Keigan O’Brien died after suffering head injuries
Keigan O’Brien died after suffering head injuries

In October, she did not seek medical help when her son suffered two black eyes while in the care of Currie, telling her friend the toddler had fallen down the stairs, jurors were told.

O’Brien explained to the friend she did not take him to hospital because “they will start asking questions”.

The trial continues.