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  Shaken Baby guidance

Crown Prosecution Service has issued guidance on its approach to non-accidental head injury cases

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has issued guidance on its approach to non-accidental head injury cases (NAHI, previously known as ‘shaken baby’ cases). This guidance explains

  1. what evidence will be needed for the Crown to prove a NAHI case
  2. what challenges may come from the defence, and how to resist them, and
  3. the importance of complying with the Criminal Procedure Rules in these cases.

The Crown has always been keen on the Triad of Injuries (bleeding into the lining of the eye, bleeding beneath the dural membrane and brain damage affecting function) as a clear indication of non-accidental injury. But, since the judgment in R -v- Cannings [2004] EWCA Crim 01, there has been a move towards challenging the Triad. This is not because Cannings was a Triad case (it was a Sudden Infant Death case) but because it raised fundamental questions about the approach to be taken in a prosecution that was based almost entirely in seriously disputed expert evidence.

At a meeting held by the Royal College of Pathologists (Dec 2009), ‘it was agreed that, based on current knowledge, the presence of “the triad”, even in its “characteristic” form, should not be regarded as absolute proof of traumatic head injury in the absence of any other corroborative evidence.’ Notwithstanding this, the CPS view is that attacks on the Triad be strongly resisted.

The guidance can be found on the CPS website or by searching Google for CPS NAHI prosecution approach.



Issue 72
November 2011

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Shaken Baby guidance
Likelihood guidance

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