21 Jun 2010

Cot fall could have caused fracture, expert tells court

8:24 pm on 21 June 2010

An Australian expert in childhood injuries has told the High Court in Whangarei that a Kerikeri toddler could have fractured his skull in a fall from his cot.

Terence Donald is giving evidence for the defence at the murder trial of Kyle Skerten, who is charged with killing his stepson.

Riley Osborne, who was 16-months-old, died of brain damage in Auckland's Starship Hospital in December 2008.

The court has heard that Mr Skerten found the toddler unconscious on the floor, and expert Crown witnesses have said his injuries could not be the result of a fall from a cot on to carpet.

But Dr Donald, the head of Child Protection Services for South Australia, said the toddler could have fractured his skull by throwing himself out of the cot head-first with his arms out and chin down.

He said a large bump on the front of his head might have been the result of an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to get out.

Earlier, Mr Skerton pleaded guilty to a host of drug charges.

He was defending more than 20 charges involving trafficking of methamphetamine and cannabis.

But before the defence opened its case on Monday afternoon, he pleaded guilty to all the drug offences.

He is continuing to defend the murder charge as the trial enters its third week.