Couple accused of child cruelty appear at court via video links from separate prisons

Amanda and Christopher Fulton

A COUPLE accused of inflicting injuries on their young child appeared at court on Monday via video link from two prisons six days after being granted bail with a condition that their address had to be suitable to police and a judge.

Amanda Fulton (31) and her 30-year-old husband Christopher Fulton, of Rockfield Gardens in Mosside, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court.

Christopher Fulton was first on video link from Maghaberry jail followed a short time later by his wife who was again on video link from Hydebank prison.

The couple were previously remanded into custody in connection with charges they jointly face – causing grievous bodily harm with intent, two counts of child cruelty involving different children, and causing or allowing a child to suffer serious physical harm.

A prosecutor told Coleraine Court the full file in the case is not due from police until the end of December.

District Judge Peter King adjourned the case to December 30 and said if bail was not perfected the couple could appear via video link but if they do get bail they will be excused from attending the court on that date.

A defence lawyer told Coleraine Court bail had previously been granted subject to an address being approved by police.

At the High Court last week, Mr Justice McAlinden approved bail but stressed the Fultons would only be released once an address he personally approved was found.

The pair were banned from any contact with their children during the initial stage of their release.

The couple deny responsibility for any harm, with their lawyers suggesting a family condition of haemophilia could offer an explanation for what happened.

Due to a court order the names or ages of the alleged victims cannot be published.

Both accused were arrested after their very young child was taken to a GP and then transferred for emergency hospital treatment on November 7.

According to the prosecution neither of them could offer an explanation for how the injuries occurred.

It was revealed that loyalist paramilitary threats have been issued against the couple.

Their home has also been boarded up due to the strength of public feeling, with the court told the couple have been subjected to online threats and abuse.

During last week’s High Court hearing a defence barrister said the alleged victim had been moved out of intensive care and was in a stable condition.

He acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations.

“The court will be cognisant of cases of this type where at least one of the parties, for example, is ultimately proved to have clean hands,” counsel had submitted.

“But at this stage both parties are maintaining their innocence.”

Further details also emerged at the High Court of the injuries suffered by the alleged victim, who was said to be blind and may be left unable to walk or talk.

A prosecution lawyer disclosed the child sustained rib fractures, fractures to limbs and liver lacerations.

The child who also suffered a skull fracture, along with subdural and retinal haemorrhages underwent brain surgery to repair a tear.

Mr Justice McAlinden had described the alleged circumstances as “frankly hideous”.

He added: “It’s quite shocking to read the list of severe injuries that this child had suffered.”

A social worker confirmed that medical tests on another child had returned normal results.

Assurances were also given by a grandmother that she would report any attempt by the accused to contact the alleged victims.

On that basis the High Court judge had said last week he would provisionally grant bail to the couple when acceptable accommodation was identified.

“The issue of the address being suitable to police is one matter, but it has to be formally approved by me,” he insisted.

“The address will not be bandied about in public, having regard to the existence of the threat.”

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