A couple accused of the genital mutilation of their young daughter said she sustained her injury by falling on a toy “activity centre”.
The girl was 21 months old when her parents brought her to hospital for immediate assistance as she was bleeding from her genitals, part of which had been removed, a court heard.
Doctors said she would have gone into shock if she had not been operated on to stop the blood loss. Gardaí were contacted when a doctor believed the father’s “story didn’t match” the girl’s injury.
The father (37) and mother (27) have gone on trial accused of mutilation of the girl at their south Dublin home on September 16, 2016.
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They are also charged with allowing her to be ill-treated or neglected, causing unnecessary suffering or injury.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard it was not alleged they performed the actual act of mutilation but that they “aided, abetted, counselled or procured” the commission of the offence.
They deny both charges.
Prosecutor Shane Costello SC told the jury the parents both presented at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin with their daughter and asked for assistance because she was bleeding and they were concerned for her health.
The girl was examined by a paediatric surgeon who found the clitoral head had been removed and “took the view that the injury she sustained was non-accidental”, Mr Costello said.
She underwent a procedure to stop the bleeding. Afterwards a referral was made to gardaí, who interviewed the accused.
A toy was seized by officers from the couple’s home, as “the accused had suggested that the injury [their daughter]sustained was as a result of falling on this toy”, Mr Costello said.
Paediatric surgeon Dr Sri Paran told the jury the girl was brought in to surgery at about 4.30pm or 5pm after “conservative” measures did not stop the bleeding.
The injury, “almost like a cut”, was fresh, the bleeding was “quite brisk”, and he estimated 4pm as the “ballpark” time it was caused.
The wound was cauterised to control the bleeding, after which it was noticed the clitoral head was absent, he said.
Dr Paran said that if it had gone untreated, the girl would have “dropped haemoglobin significantly” and by the following morning she would have had difficulty breathing.
Within 20 hours, she would not have been able to maintain oxygen saturation and would have gone into shock, he said.
After the operation, he spoke to the girl’s father.
“He said she was coming out of the bathroom without a nappy on and something happened where she was moving backwards, she fell onto a toy and sustained the injury,” Dr Paran said.
He was shown the toy, which had “a steering wheel and a few things indicating probably a car”.
“I felt that this is not a crush injury… the story didn’t match,” he said.
Cross-examined by Patrick Gageby SC, for the girl’s mother, Dr Paran said the girl seemed otherwise well cared for.
Consultant paediatrician Dr Sinead Harty told the court that she examined the girl on September 19.
“My opinion was the injury I was seeing wasn’t consistent with a fall on a toy because there was no bruising or swelling on the outside, on the skin. It was very internal,” Dr Harty said.
As the only injury was that the clitoris was missing, she thought it was caused by female genital mutilation.
The trial continues.
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