The mother of Ali Jayden Doyle, who is currently remanded in custody accused of perverting the course of justice around the child’s death, has had an application for bail adjourned at the High Court.
Jade Dempsey (24) of Sycamore Drive, Dungannon is also charged with causing the death of the two-year-old child.
The mother’s partner, Darren John Armstrong (32) of Park Avenue, but also with an address at Ardberg Drive – both in Dungannon – is charged with murdering Ali on August 6 and perverting the course of justice by providing police with misleading information.
At 11am on the morning in question, NI Ambulance Service were called to the Park Avenue address to a report of an unconscious child. Little Ali was found unresponsive and high on the coma scale, not reacting to pain or motor response.
Armstrong claimed Ali’s baby brother hit her with a toy, causing her to fall and strike her heard on the fireplace.
While Ali was being rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital paramedics became concerned about the account given by both Armstrong and Dempsey, and contacted police and Social Services.
Shortly after arriving at hospital, the child passed away having suffered “catastrophic head injuries”.
The court heard both children had been placed on the Child Protection Register in April, due to Dempsey’s relationship with Armstrong.
She was: “Expressly told on a number of occasions that he was to have no access – supervised or unsupervised – with these two children.”
Later, the day Ali died, Armstrong was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Dempsey gave an account of going to his house to return a bank card, and while there realised one of the children had lost its dummy. She decided to “re-trace her steps” and leaving them with him while she did so.
In the process of this, she claims Armstrong rang her stating Ali was hurt and returned to the house to find paramedics in attendance.
But investigations revealed the couple had allegedly arranged for Dempsey to travel to Belfast to purchase a pram, and would leave the children with Armstrong while she was gone.
She sent a text to him around 10.30am saying they were on their way and the taxi driver who took her to Park Avenue described Ali as: “Alert and in good spirits.”
After leaving them off Dempsey made her way to the bus station and about 10.45am, Armstrong sent her a video of the child watching television.
Minutes later he sent a text referring to Ali’s baby brother saying: “He’s seriously melting my head. He won’t stop. Crying for completely nothing.”
Close to 11am Armstrong rang Dempsey and police believe this was the notification that Ali was injured.
A post mortem revealed the head injury was: “More likely to be non-accidental. The injuries are so extensive the pathologist could not say how many times the head had been impacted. In over 25 years experience the pathologist never seen this level of accidental injury in a child or adult.”
Opposing bail, the court heard Dempsey travelled to family in her native Dublin in the aftermath, and while she had presented herself for arrest when required, had indicated her intention to give up her Dungannon house and go back home.
During police interview she changed accounts of how she came to leave two-year-old Ali with Armstrong and ultimately what she disclosed was “completely wrong”.
Later she accepted lying as she knew Armstrong was forbidden from contact with either child and she had indeed left them with him in contravention of Social Services warnings.
She was, the court heard, afraid if she told the truth Social Services would remove her other child, which subsequently occurred after Ali died in hospital.
The Prosecution highlighted very specific concerns around Dempsey’s own safety due a social media backlash, with Dungannon police of the view trouble could flare if she returned to the area.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan pointed to a possibility of release if an appropriate address is found, which will not be publicly disclosed.
Defence counsel advised the court her client intends to apply for permission to attend the child’s funeral which is to be held in Dublin, although there are as yet no set arrangements in place.
This has been delayed because Ali’s body has been retained by the coroner as Armstrong is seeking a second post mortem examination. It is understood that has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 18.
Dempsey’s bail application will be revisited next week