Experts’ testimony should prompt trial to be reopened: defence

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Crown in Colin Matchim case says more to it than medical evidence

Colin James Matchim sits in the prisoner’s dock near his lawyer Erin Breen Tuesday prior to the start of proceedings at Newfoundland Supreme Court in
St. John’s. Matchim spent 10 months in jail before he was granted bail last year.
— Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

It was a case that saw medical experts from around the world testify, each giving their opinion as to what caused brain damage in a 3 1/2-month-old infant girl from St. John’s in 2009.

Some were adamant it was Shaken Baby Syndrome. Others said it could have been other medical conditions.

In November 2011, the child’s father, Colin James Matchim, was found guilty of aggravated assault for shaking August Coombs and causing her injuries.

The 27-year-old hasn’t been sentenced — and may not be.

It will depend on the outcome of a hearing that wraps up today in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.

The hearing argued the merits of an application filed by Matchim’s lawyers, who are seeking to reopen the case to introduce medical evidence that wasn’t introduced during his 17-day trial.

The hearing — which began last year — included complex medical evidence that delved into the widely debated issue of Shaken Baby Syndrome and its validity.

But whether or not that’s what caused August Coombs’ injuries is not what Justice Wayne Dymond has to determine. It’s whether or not the defence’s medical experts were believable enough to prompt him to overturn the guilty verdict — one of the key criteria in what’s known in law as the Palmer test, a motion to introduce fresh evidence.

“You just have to determine if their opinions are capable of belief,”  Matchim’s lawyer Erin Breen said Tuesday during final arguments. “It’s the same as whether they have an air of truth. It’s a low threshold …

“I suggest their evidence stands up and the court must accord their testimony weight.”

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Organizations: John Radcliffe Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, University of Western Ontario Hospital for Sick Children

Geographic location: Oxford

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Recent comments

  • John
    June 19, 2013 - 20:28

    The defendant in this case has already been found guilty aggravated of aggravated assault. Any evidence that could have been submitted during the initial trial, not as an after-thought.

  • elizabeth burton
    June 19, 2013 - 15:39

    i watched the end of a case on the news a while back where the defense brought in a crash test baby dummy and had a very strong man shaking the crap out of it to determine what g force was needed to cause the type of damage to the brain , shaken baby syndrome, which suggests that the brain hits the inside of the skull, causing hemorages......it cannot be done...... babies have strokes, adults have strokes. if it happens in the womb, ok. if it happens in hosp...ok. but if it happens in the childs home, with loving caring parents,,,,it is assult or murder....remember...the dingo really did eat that baby in australia.

  • Whaddaya At
    June 19, 2013 - 15:29

    He admitted to police that he shook the baby and demonstrated to police the force that he used. Does anyone think that the force he demonstrated was the force that he really used ?. No ?. Didn't think so.

  • Eli
    June 19, 2013 - 13:51

    I think if was Frank Sinatra who said something similar to; "He who presents the best Public Relations wins the Oscar". That what the judge is up against here?