Noa Ronnie Etheridge is on trial in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and not guilty to carrying out an act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Noa Ronnie Etheridge is on trial in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and not guilty to carrying out an act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Jann Houley

Doctor: 'The injury penetrated right to the brain matter'

A NEUROSURGEON told a jury that if head injuries from hammer blows to Kerry Gittins's temples were left untreated, she would have likely suffered "death or severe morbidity”.

Dr Jed Robusto was one of the medical team who treated Ms Gittins at Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital after she was attacked in her home on January 9, 2018.

He gave evidence in a trial in the Supreme Court where Ms Gittins's alleged attacker, Noa Ronnie Etheridge is on trial after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and not guilty to assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in relation to the alleged assault on the Koongal resident in her home. Etheridge pleaded guilty Monday to unlawful act of grievous bodily harm.

He also pleaded guilty to other charges of attempting to enter premises, stealing, enter dwelling with intent, wilful damage and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

The court heard during the agreed facts being read out that Etheridge had left muddy fingerprints and clothing throughout the block of units on the property, including muddy clothing left in the laundry.

Ms Gittins opened the door to Etheridge, who she did not know, sometime between 6.30am and 6.40am on January 9, 2018.

He told Ms Gittins, who was 56-years-old at the time, he had been fishing and his son had been hurt and needed water.

Ms Gittins went to her kitchen, retrieved a 600ml bottle of water from the fridge to give to the man, and as she returned to the front door, she found he had moved and he hit her in the head with the hammer.

Dr Robusto told the court a CT scan showed Ms Gittins had bilateral depressed skull fractures - meaning they were depressed more than the thickness of the skull - and blood around the brain caused by trauma.

He said the wounds were "open to the world” and she had other significant bruising and lacerations around her head, along with about four broken teeth.

"The injury penetrated right to the brain matter,” Dr Robusto said after describing the layers of skin, fibrous tissue, bone and cerebrospinal fluid that protect the brain.

He said when medical professionals operated, they started with the left temple injury because it was the most severe.

Dr Robusto said they tried to put the bone fragments back in their usual position, but they were too small and the wound was contaminated with foreign material, so the fragments were removed and the wound cleaned before repairing it.

He said an acrylic bone substitute was made and placed in the skull during a later surgery.

Dr Robusto told the court if Ms Gittins had not received medical treatment for her temple injuries, "she would have developed an infection. She would have developed meningitis and potentially an abscess or infected collection in her brain”.

He said the consequence of those was "death or severe morbidity”.

The trial continues today.



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