Doctor describes 'excessive force' needed to break baby's bones
A DOCTOR has described how he thinks a baby's ribs would have been fractured by his tiny body being squeezed.
And Doctor George Rylance told Plymouth Crown Court: "The majority of rib fractures in babies are not caused by accident but an intentional act."
Dr Rylance was giving evidence at the trial of Christopher Sheldon, 32, and his 24-year-old wife Charlotte.
The couple are on trial for cruelty towards their son Ethan in the first four months of his life, in Sefton Avenue, Lipson.
Dr Rylance told the court how Ethan's fifth, sixth and seventh ribs were broken.
He explained that this could have been caused by compression around the rib cage.
He said: "It's just like squeezing a circular tube. That breaks one of the sides of the tube, perhaps at the weakest point."
Dr Rylance went on to say: "In my job we resuscitate babies by trying to get the heart to work.
"We squeeze on the breast bone. We usually reduce that diameter by half and that doesn't cause fractures."
He added that excessive force was used on Ethan "without doubt".
The paediatric expert, who did not examine the boy himself but reviewed photographs and the reports of others, said it was possible Ethan's clavicle or collar bone was broken together with his ribs.
He said: "Babies don't break their clavicles accidentally. It's usually done by a tight squeezing in babies.
"If you are squeezing at both sides, the fracture occurs at the weakest point.
"Certainly putting arms in baby grows, it would be evident the baby didn't like that movement."
Ethan was also found to have a fracture to the bottom of the shin, near his ankle, and a broken bone in his other foot.
Asked if this could have been caused by being brutally held upside down by his feet, Dr Rylance responded: "Yes."
He added that bruising across Ethan's arms, legs and back could have been caused by an impact with a long thin object such as a blunt piece of cutlery or the edge of a table.
Christopher Sheldon, of Bridgetown, Totnes, and Charlotte Sheldon, of Sefton Avenue, each deny two alternative charges.
Each is accused of "ill-treating or assaulting" Ethan between his birth in May 2010 and October that year.
The pair are also charged with "neglect or exposing" him – failing to seek medical attention for his injuries over the same period.
The trial continues.