Rockhampton Hospital.
Rockhampton Hospital. File

'Little life in danger': Baby boy's multiple horror injuries

A ROCKHAMPTON baby who died when he was 11 weeks old was shunted from carer to carer, surrounded by alcohol, drugs and violence.

The Supreme Court in Rockhampton heard yesterday three experts involved in the manslaughter case against the baby's father have been unable to conclude which injury, of more than a dozen sustained, caused his death in 2013.

Prosecution will allege Lattrell Dodd was violently shaken the night before an ambulance was called to the family's Koongal home on May 23, 2013.

It will be alleged other injuries the baby sustained had been inflicted in the four weeks prior to his death, including seven skull fractures, more than a dozen broken ribs, two broken collarbones and a broken femur.

He was also very undernourished.

The court heard the baby was often in the care of drunk adults and in the company of adults smoking marijuana.

Christopher Allan Holland has been charged with manslaughter and child cruelty after the death of his son, Lattrell Dodd, in May 2013.

His co-accused, Megan Jean Freeman, a West Gladstone resident, only has one child cruelty charge.

Their charges were only laid in 2015.

Holland appeared in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton yesterday via video link as defence lawyer Franklin Richards made an application for the trial of the manslaughter charge to be expedited after lengthy delays by the prosecution and a weak case for manslaughter.

"It has some significant weakness,” he said.

"This child was living in a very dysfunctional environment. That is perhaps an understatement, if anything.”

He said Lattrell, at times, was not even in the care of either parent.

Mr Richards said at times Lattrell "was in the care of drunk adults” and in the company of adults smoking marijuana.

He said Lattrell was also in the vicinity of a violent altercation between a number of adults who had weapons, where one witness said his "little life was in danger”.

The ill baby was flown to the Mater Hospital in Brisbane after the May 23, 2013 incident, where he died on May 31, 2013.

Mr Richards said evidence of Holland ill-treating his son was lacking and was based on two eye witnesses - one being Freeman, who was currently subject to psychological assessment and waiting for a hearing in the Mental Health Court.

Mr Richards said the second witness's words to police during two interviews was that both Lattrell's parents were "lovely”.

He pointed to three specialist reports that form part of the prosecution's case.

Justice Graeme Crow commented that the nature of the reports was that the injuries were so severe, it was difficult to determine what injury, inflicted at what time, caused Lattrell's death.

Mr Richards said Holland did not want to "shirk away from his responsibilities” and just wanted the matter finalised.

He said he had indicated he would plead guilty to the child cruelty charge.

Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips said nothing had changed since February 2018, when the court heard there were 12-month delays of Freeman's Mental Health Court matters and that Holland's manslaughter matter would be resolved in the early half of 2019.

He said the Mental Health Court sittings for this year and early next year were full.

Mr Phillips pointed out defence could use the "weakness of case” in a bail application for Holland, who remains on remand.

Mr Richards said Holland had been advised of his prospect of bail and no instructions had been given for such an application at this stage.

Justice Crow said he had a "strong will” to list the trial for January 2019, however information provided to the court by the prosecution from a Department of Public Prosecutions senior officer about the Mental Health Court process indicated the delay was linked to the psychologist or psychiatrist assessment and report process.

The court heard it took three months for a defendant to have their initial assessment with a psychologist or psychiatrist and a further three to six months for the report to be prepared for the court.

"So the delay is not with the courts, it would seem, but rather with the preparation of providing that information for the courts,” Justice Crow said.

He adjourned the application until October 2 and requested an update from Freeman's defence lawyers about where the mental health assessment process was at and for inquiries to be made regarding whether the assessing expert could expedite their report.

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