Louise O'Brien trial delayed by contractions

The trial of a woman accused of cruelly assaulting Illawarra teenager Louise O’Brien in the years before her death has been adjourned because a witness was close to giving birth.

Crown prosecutor Michael Fox  made an application yesterday for the trial to be put over to another date, citing that a  witness was in the final stages of pregnancy and would soon deliver her baby at an interstate hospital.

Mr Fox said the woman was in considerable pain and had been back and forth to hospital with contractions.

The witness was to give evidence in Wollongong District Court about  an allegation that a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pushed Ms O’Brien’s head through a glass panel at the front of a home in the Illawarra’s northern suburbs.

The woman has pleaded not guilty to two charges of common assault and three charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The Crown alleges the assaults took place over a period from February 2005 to October 2008, while Ms O’Brien was living with the woman, who was a close family friend.

Ms O’Brien died on or about October 12, 2008 from injuries which had been inflicted upon her.

The possibility of the pregnant witness giving evidence using an audiovisual link was canvassed during yesterday’s proceedings in the judge-alone trial.

However, Mr Fox said that option was not appropriate.

‘‘If it’s the situation that she is having contractions,  I don’t think it’s suitable for her to be giving evidence,’’ he said.

Yesterday the police officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Constable Tony Crawford, told the court that Department of Housing records contained a report which was filed on February 11, 2008, in relation to a smashed glass panel at the front of the house, in which Ms O’Brien lived with the accused.

Snr Const Crawford also gave evidence that he was unable to find  any of Ms O’Brien’s medical records during the period she was living in the Illawarra from early 2005 to 2008. However,  medical records were found for other children under the care of the accused.

Judge David Frearson adjourned the trial for mention next Tuesday.

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