Baby allegedly put in tumble dryer ‘wouldn’t have been able to climb in’

The case is being heard at Dundee Sheriff Court.
The case is being heard at Dundee Sheriff Court.
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A 13-month-old girl who was allegedly put in an activated tumble dryer would not have been able to climb into the machine by herself, a court has been told.

The child’s mother said the toddler was not strong enough to be able to do so at the time.

The witness also told jurors she would not make false accusations and said she was seeking “closure” for her child.

Thomas Dunn, 25, is on trial accused of endangering the toddler’s life by putting her in the machine at his flat in Arbroath, Angus, and switching it on at a point around the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018.

The child’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, earlier told a jury at Dundee Sheriff Court that she turned around from washing dishes at her friend’s home to see her girl in the tumble dryer.

During the second day of the trial yesterday, prosecutor Nicola Gillespie asked the witness: “Would [the girl] have been able at that stage... to climb in there [the dryer] on her own if the door was open?” The woman replied: “No, she wasn’t strong enough on her legs at that point.”

Earlier, she told the trial how she heard two thuds which drew her attention.

“I just instantly thought that she’d been put in it [the dryer]because of how loud it was,” she said.

The witness described hearing screaming while the child was still in the machine and agreed that Dunn had initially refused to hand the girl over after switching the machine off.

Asked about Dunn’s demeanour, the woman replied: “There was just no emotion. I felt like he felt like it was a joke.

“But I didn’t and I was really angry with it.”

The witness said it took five to ten minutes for the girl to calm down after the event and described how the youngster was screaming and trying to get away from the accused, who was holding her.

The woman also spoke of an incident around the same time of year when she said she saw Dunn moving to put his hand over the child’s mouth and nose.

The court heard she told police in a statement: “Out of nowhere, Tom said if kids find it hard to sleep you suffocate them by putting your hand over their mouth and nose for a number of seconds until they go drowsy.”

It added: “I was shocked. It came from nowhere, I just thought it was an odd thing to say.”

Defence advocate Niall McCluskey put it to the witness that the incidents could not have been so serious since she had left her child in Dunn’s care following the tumble dryer incident.

She said she disagreed and told the court: “I wouldn’t accuse someone or make an accusation like that.”

Dunn, of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, denies three charges of assaulting the child between December 2017 and January 2018.

The case, before Sheriff Alastair Brown, continues today.