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Court told of ‘catastrophic injuries’ as Dungannon pair denied bail over death of two-year-old Ali Doyle

Omagh Courthouse. Photo: Kenneth Allen / Geograph
Omagh Courthouse. Photo: Kenneth Allen / Geograph

The mother of a two-year-old girl who died of “catastrophic” injuries at a house in Dungannon has appeared in court today (Tuesday) alongside herĀ  partner.

The toddler, Ali Jayden Doyle, died on Friday following an incident at a house at Park Avenue in the town.

Jade Dempsey (24), of Sycamore Drive, Dungannon, appeared at Omagh Magistrates’ Court via video link from Laganside Courthouse.

She is charged with perverting the course of justice and causing or allowing the death of a child, by “failing to take such steps as could reasonably have been expected to take to protect Ali Jayden Doyle from the risk”.

Also appearing from the same courthouse was Darren John Armstrong (32), of Ashbeg Grove, Dungannon.

He is charged with murdering the toddler on August 6 and perverting the course of justice between August 6 and August 9.

The pair spoke only to say they understood the charges.

Outlining the events of August 6 to the court, Detective Inspector James Brannigan said the NI Ambulance Service was called to reports of an unconscious child and on arrival found Ali unresponsive.

In his account of what happened, Armstrong said Ali’s younger brother had hit her on the head with a toy and that she had fallen and hit her head on the hearth.

The detective said both Ali and her younger sibling were on the Child Protection Register and that Armstrong and Dempsey were expressly told on a number of occasions that he was to have no access to the children.

The court was told Dempsey had left the children with Armstrong and had only been gone a short time when she got a call to say there had been an accident.

A series of messages between the pair were relayed to the court. At 10.45, Ali was in Armstrong’s house, sitting up watching TV. At 10.54, he sent a message saying she was crying and “melting his head”, with Dempsey replying and asking to know if she was okay.

At 11.08, a call was made to paramedics and Dempsey returned to the house and accompanied the child to the hospital.

The inspector told the court that following a postmortem, a pathologist said the injury to the child was more likely to be non-accidental and that the injuries were “catastrophic”.

There were also reports of someone hearing a child screaming from the house and another child crying.

The court heard Dempsey has three other children in care in the Republic of Ireland and her remaining child here is now under the care of social services.

Objecting to bail, the detective said Armstrong has an “extensive” record of offences against the person and represents a flight risk.

Patrick Fahy, appearing for Armstrong, said his client had given a full, thorough and detailed account of what happened and had contacted emergency services without delay.

Also applying for bail, James Strawbridge of James Strawbridge Solicitors, who is representing Dempsey, said his client has no previous convictions.

He said she was not at the house when the incident occurred and is a “young, grieving mother”.

He added: “She has had a horrific life and children removed from her care. There will be funeral some time later this week and the mother needs to grieve.”

Judge Bernie Kelly said she did not consider either defendant suitable for bail, saying Dempsey posed a flight risk and that Armstrong has a litany of record for breach of court orders and she did not believe he would adhere to bail conditions.

Both defendants were remanded in custody and are due to appear before Dungannon Magistrates Court on September 1.

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