Boy saw baby being punched, court hears

2012-04-20 22:06

Pretoria - A boy told a Pretoria court on Friday how he saw murder-accused Nolan Schoeman punch a sleeping baby on the head.

The 9-year-old testified by means of closed-circuit television in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, with the help of an intermediary, in the trial of Schoeman, 32, and Marissa Rudman, 36.

Both have pleaded not guilty to abusing and murdering their two-month-old boy Wade in April 2009, and abusing another child.

The baby died of head injuries several days after being admitted to the Steve Biko Hospital, in Pretoria, in a critical condition.

The boy, who may not be identified, testified that Wade "was in heaven because Nolan hurt him".

"I saw Nolan hit baby Wade on the head with the fist. I can't remember what happened after that.

"Baby Wade was sleeping. He was still sleeping after he was hit," he said.

This happened in the bedroom. Rudman was in the lounge when it happened.

The child could not say whether Wade was ill, but said the baby had cried "quite often".

The child testified that Schoeman had always been mean to him and was not nice to Rudman either.

He had often seen Schoeman choking Rudman and also once saw him hit her on the forehead with an iron.

"I saw choking, slapping and punching. Nolan was doing the punching and [Rudman] was doing the slapping... There was a lot of blood.

"I was screaming during the fights. I asked the security guards for help," he said.

The child said no-one had ever hurt him and he told the court he felt "weird" and confused.

He turned his back, refused to answer questions and shook off the interpreter when asked questions about Schoeman.

He became visibly upset when counsel for Schoeman asked him if he knew that Schoeman loved him, and later said through the intermediary that Schoeman did not like him and that it was a lie.

Strange injuries

Forensic pathologist Dr Christina Cronjé testified that Wade died of head injuries caused by blunt force non-accidental violence consistent with a blow or blows with a fist.

The baby had an injury on the inside of the mouth under the upper lip that was typically described in the literature as an injury caused by an assault.

Apart from two broken forearms, the baby also had 22 rib fractures.

The fractures had already healed or were starting to heal and could have been older than two weeks.

Cronjé testified that the bones of babies were more elastic than those of adults and it would have taken significant force to break a bone.

Photos of the baby's feet showed "strange" injuries that were not normal in a baby, but the pathologist could not say what had caused them.

There were also clearly visible abrasions on the baby's forearm that looked as if they might have been caused by a nail and were an older injury.

She said the total picture of the baby's injuries and the different ages of the injuries fitted with non-accidental injury syndrome, indicating abuse.

Cronjé said she could find no signs that medical negligence could have caused baby Wade's death.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    child abuse

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