The four-month-old baby of a couple charged with criminal neglect had severe injuries including a fractured skull and was so dehydrated he was “close to death”, a court has heard.
- Prosecutor says the baby had injuries and was severely dehydrated
- Defence lawyer says boy has a syndrome that affects his feeding
- Bail opposed, but granted by magistrate and appealed by prosecutor
Jeremy Neil Capper, 31, and Ebanee Gayl Coad, 30, from Port Pirie, were charged with criminal neglect on Thursday after an investigation by South Australia Police and the Department for Child Protection.
They appeared today in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court via phone link from the Port Pirie police cells, where they have been held since their arrest.
The court heard they took their four-month-old boy to the Port Pirie Hospital on September 13, where doctors found he was in a “peri-arrest” state and “very close to death”.
In opposing their release on bail, the police prosecutor said the boy was severely dehydrated and was suffering kidney failure.
“The allegation is that the two accused persons left the child severely dehydrated and it’s alleged that they failed to provide fluids or food to the child for at least several days,” he said.
The prosecutor said the baby had sustained multiple physical injuries, some of which were several weeks old, including a fracture on the left side of his skull and broken ribs.
“A possible cause of [the skull fracture] was a direct blow to the area or the child being dropped and landing on the side of its head,” he said.
The court heard the bruises on the baby’s head and back were consistent with being inflicted by another person.
He was also suffering from severe nappy rash and contact dermatitis.
The baby was airlifted to Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital seven weeks ago, where he received intensive treatment and is now recovering.
He, along with two other children aged six and two years old, were removed from their parents’ care by the Department for Child Protection.
Couple blames condition on syndrome
The court heard the couple will be contesting the charges.
Mr Capper’s lawyer told the court the baby had been diagnosed with a chromosomal abnormality called Koolen-de Vries syndrome, which had impacted on his feeding capacity.
“The child was certainly feeding but wasn’t feeding well, as he required feeding not through a bottle but by spoon-feeding or other methods,” she said.
“We say the reason he was malnourished can be attributed to that syndrome.”
Mr Capper’s lawyer told the court the allegations only came to light because the couple took the baby to hospital.
“Once they had realised that he wasn’t in full health, they became concerned and they presented him to hospital,” she said.
Magistrate Yoong Fee Chin granted the couple bail, but the prosecutor called for the decision to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Mr Capper and Ms Coad will remain in custody until the outcome of the Supreme Court review, which must be heard within the next 72 hours.