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Medic Faces Disciplinary Action Over Twin's Death


Medic Faces Disciplinary Action Over Twin's Death

March 9, 2004


Europe Intelligence Wire

NORTHERN Ireland's Assistant State Pathologist is facing Government disciplinary proceedings over his failure to identify multiple fractures on the body of a 14-month-old Romanian orphan who died less than four months after being adopted and taken to live in the Province in 2000, it was revealed yesterday.

In a case which sent shockwaves across the UK, the injuries were only found when the body was exhumed after the orphan's twin was taken to hospital 13 days later suffering from a fractured skull.

Assistant pathologist Dr Michael Curtis is working under ''restricted practice'', while the proceedings instigated by the NIO take place.

In January, he was found not guilty of professional misconduct at a General Medical Council (GMC) hearing into the case.

The NIO said it had only been able to proceed with its disciplinary proceedings after the GMC case was completed.

A spokesman said they hoped to conclude the proceedings, which will culminate with an internal hearing, in the next two to three months.

The boy's adoptive father, former overseas missionary Geoffrey Briggs, was jailed for two years for causing grievous bodily harm to the injured twin after admitting punching him. The boy no longer lives with him or his wife, Gwen.

No charges have been brought over the death of the dead twin, but the Director of Public Prosecutions is examining a file sent to them following a fresh police investigation into the case, it was confirmed yesterday.

The boys, David and Samuel, were adopted from a Romanian orphanage in July, 2000, by Mr and Mrs Briggs and taken to live in Portadown, Co Armagh.

By October, David was dead. The initial post-mortem examination carried out by Dr Curtis did not record a cause of death or mention the multiple fractures he had suffered.

After Samuel's injuries were discovered less than a fortnight later, David's body was exhumed and a further post-mortem carried out at which the fractures were found.

The action against the pathologist was revealed as the Government published two reports into the tragic orphan's case.

One, by the Department of Health and Social Services, reviewed its involvement in the case and the other by the NIO reviewed the workings of the State Pathologists Department.

The latter said the injuries to the dead twin happened while he was alive and were "clearly not accidental".

A health visitor from the Craigavon and Banbridge Health Trust is the subject of a professional conduct hearing by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in relation to the twins.

After three days of evidence in Belfast last month, the case against Mrs Claire Mc-Donnell, 64, was adjourned until later in the year.

2004 Mar 9