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'No concerns' over twin's home

'No concerns' over twin's home
Geoffrey Briggs was convicted of grievous bodily harm

Details of Romanian twins first days in Northern Ireland have been outlined to a disciplinary hearing in Belfast.

The orphan boys were adopted by County Armagh couple Gwen and Geoffrey Briggs in July 2000.

One of the orphan boys, David, died four months later, while the second, Samuel, suffered a fractured skull at the hands of his adoptive father, a former missionary.

Briggs was later convicted of grievous bodily harm, and sentenced to two years in prison.

Portadown health visitor Claire McDonnell is appearing before the Nursing and Midwifery Council's disciplinary committee in Belfast.

She is charged with misconduct, failing to keep proper records and falsifying records. She denies the charges.

On Friday, Mrs McDonnell's lawyer gave details about what sort of home Mrs McDonnell had found when she first met the Briggs family in July 2000.

Her lawyer said it had been a clean, well furnished house with evidence of regular visits from the couple's extended family.


He also told the hearing that both David, who died in October of that year, and Samuel had been regularly vaccinated and that their GP had not raised any concerns about how there were being looked after.

Mrs McDonnell's entire caseload has been examined as part of the investigation and the hearing was given an insight into the sort of pressures health visitors face.

Mrs McDonnell was responsible for 253 cases. When these were examined, only nine - including that of the Briggs family - revealed problems considered serious enough to be included in the disciplinary hearing.

A quarter of Mrs McDonnell's cases involved Army families and her defence team explained how she had regularly faced delays in her working day because of security restrictions at Portadown's Mahon Road camp.

These problems were at their height about the time she first met the Briggs family as large numbers of Army families were in the area because of the Drumcree protest.

Mrs McDonnell's lawyer said health visitors like her operated under extreme pressure at times and often had to make value judgements about how they organised their time.

But her boss, Geraldine Maguire, insisted that the Craigavon and Banbridge Trust had adequate systems in place to support all its staff.

The case has now been adjourned and is not expected to reconvene until May

. Geoffrey Briggs

2004 Feb 27