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Expert says Lola’s eye injuries suggest abusive head trauma



LOLA’S eye injuries are indicative of abusive head trauma, the first medical expert to take to the witness stand told Swansea Crown Court on Friday (Mar 10).

Dr Ian Simmons, Consultant paediatric ophthalmologist gave his opinion on the findings in his report into the retina injuries sustained by the toddler.

Dr Simmons has been an expert in the field since 1999 and has contributed to major studies and literature looking into retinal findings in non-abusive head trauma and abusive head trauma.

Including reviewing and contributing to a review into differential retinal injuries in abusive vs non-abusive head traumas in September 2020.

Swansea Crown Court heard how Lola had multiple haemorrhages in both her right and left eye, which also was evident in all four quadrants; during medical examinations, eyes are split into quarters and referred to as quadrants to locate any significant anomaly.

The injuries were detected through a range of diagnostic methods, including visual, 2d scans, retcams (3d) and the findings during the course of a post-mortem.

These included two large macular haemorrhages to the right eye which were present in all four quadrants, along with multiple other haemorrhages, noted there were too numerous to count.

The court heard how Lola’s left eye had a massive dic haemorrages along with others in all four quardants and macular changes due to retinal splitting. There was also bleeding to the oribital and optical nerve in both eyes.

Dr Simmons went on to say how bi-lateral retinal heamoraghes; those affecting both eyes, are highly indicative of an abusive head trauma as opposed to accidental.

He went on to say that injuries of the retina, such as those sustained by Lola are usually present in children who have sustained a very significant crush injury or a fall from a height such as a house window.

The court heard how the presence of macular folds is more prevalent in an abusive head trauma injury by the tenfold.

Dr Simmons confirmed that before compile his expert opinion report he was privy to reports from all medical professionals who treated Lola, including reports and scans, the autopsy report, police statements and photographs of the family home namely the stairs the defence claim Lola fell down.

The court heard that Dr Simmons bore no knowledge of a child presenting with optical nerve sheath haemorrhages in both eyes ever being presented in an accidental head trauma.

The court heard how Dr Simmons had gone through an extensive exclusion procedure and ruled out any underlying diseases, or anything within the statements from the police that would suggest anything other than abusive head trauma would cause the injuries.

Bevan’s Barrister, John Hipkins KC brought to the court’s attention a case study from 2013, by Dr Adams, another paediatric ophthalmologist, in which a child had a fatal fall down 10 steps, with multiple impacts and noted that the injuries received by that child were similar to that of Lola’s.

He explained that this was a witnessed accidental fall and the injuries were received as a result of accidental head trauma.

Dr Simmons went on to clarify that although those injuries bore a ‘striking resemblance’ to this case, that child did not present with peri-macular folding and sheath haemorrhages that Lola did, and those indicate it is more likely in this case as a result of an abusive head trauma.

In his report Dr Simmons said: “With a combination of extensive bilateral retinal bleeding in all four quadrants affecting multiple layers in both eyes with possible retinal splitting along with evidence of left per-macular retinal fold and presence of bilateral optic nerve sheath haemorrhages, that combination pointed towards abusive head trauma rather than an accidental fall down the stairs.

“Highly unlikely the above combination would have been caused by falling down 10 carpeted stairs.”

Dr Simmons suggested that based on the other injuries Lola had and reading the medical reports it points towards abusive head injury from that such as violent shaking with a possible form of impact.

John Hipkin KC, went on to question Dr Simmon on the language used in his report stating it was all based on medical science which meant they were left to deal with “likelihoods instead of certainties”.

Dr Simmons explained that medical science is not definitive, but certain retinal injuries are highly suggestive towards abusive head trauma based on medical evidence from data collection.

Mr Hipkin KC went on to ask if Dr Simmon had been given Bevan’s statement of his account of the accident, which he confirmed was received and had used that evidence to make his conclusion.

Suggesting that shaking could have been part of Bevans attempts to wake the tot.

However Mr Hipkin went on to say that Bevan’s statement was not included on Dr Simmons summary of evidence documents used to support his claims.

Dr Simmons could not recall whether he had simply forgotten to include them or whether they were together with another set of reports in a bundle which is included on the summary of evidence on the report.

James’ Barrister Mr Elias did not cross examine the witness.

The next medical expert witness is due to take the stand on Monday.

The case was adjourned and will continue on Monday, March 13 at 10am.


Appointment of new canons to St Davids Cathedral



THE DEAN of St Davids has expressed delight that the Bishop of St Davids has appointed four new Canons for the Cathedral.

The Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones said, ‘I am so pleased to welcome the Revd Gareth Reid, the Revd Julian Smith and the Revd Marcus Zipperlen as Canons and members of Dean and Chapter, together with the Revd Richard Davies as Honorary Canon. They bring a considerable breadth and depth of long experience that will contribute greatly to the life of the Cathedral and its wider family.’

The Revd Gareth Reid is no stranger to the Cathedral. After growing up and attending university in Aberystwyth, then working with the Salvation Army in Swansea prison, he pursued theological training. Following his ordination in 2010, his first role was as Assistant Curate in the Cathedral and the wider group of churches that then formed the Rectorial Benefice of Dewisland. In 2013 he moved with his wife Abby and daughters Sophie and Elizabeth to Llandysul. ‘It is wonderful to be able to accept the invitation to renew my link with the Cathedral, now as a Canon’ said Gareth.  

The Revd Julian Smith was ordained in 1993, and has spent all his ministry in the Diocese of St Davids, in the Archdeaconry of Cardigan. For twenty-seven of those years, he has served churches in and around Llanrhystud. He and his wife Deborah, a domiciliary care worker, have three children, Daniel an organist, Nick a tuba player and waiter, and Edith a singer and dancer on the high seas! Responding to his appointment, Julian said ‘I felt honoured to be asked by the Bishop to be a Canon of St Davids Cathedral, and am very much looking forward to this new adventure.’

Originally from Bexhill on the south coast of England, the Revd Marcus Zipperlen moved to Wales nineteen years ago to work at the Centre for Alternative Technology, running their Biology Department and teaching sustainable water treatment and sanitation, following a degree in Environmental Science. Ordained in 2013, he now lives in Llangwm with his wife Polly, a nurse, and their two teenage boys, Sonny and Malachy. In their spare time he and Polly row Celtic longboats from Neyland and run occasional distance events. Marcus looks after four mostly rural parishes south of Haverfordwest, and is also the Sustainability Officer for the Diocese. ‘I feel blessed to be able to be able to weave both my “callings” together: ministry to people and caring for the Earth’ he said, adding ‘I hope these may be of benefit to the Cathedral, as I serve as a member of Chapter.’

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Thousands enjoy RNLI Lifeboat Festival at Pembroke Castle



ON Father’s Day (Jun 16), more than 1,650 people descended on Pembroke Castle for a day of family fun at to mark 200 years of saving lives at sea for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The medieval venue played host to the RNLI’s Lifeboat Festival and opened its gates for the public to meet local lifesavers and have fun while learning how to stay safe in the water with the RNLI Water Safety team.

Revellers enjoyed live music from Goodwick Brass Band, Henry Tudor School (Ysgol Harri Tudur) who showcased highlights from their upcoming performance of Peter Pan, Pembroke and District Male Voice Choir, shanty band Cockles and Mussels, Tenby Male Voice Choir, folk rockers Razor Bill, and Calico Jack.

The RNLI has been saving lives at sea for more than 200 years, in which time its volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved 146,452 lives – this equates to an average of two lives saved every day for 200 years.

The charity was founded in a London tavern on 4 March 1824 following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks, the RNLI has continued saving lives at sea throughout the tests of its history, including tragic disasters, funding challenges and two World Wars.

Two centuries have seen vast developments in the lifeboats and kit used by the charity’s lifesavers – from the early oar-powered vessels to today’s technology-packed boats, which are now built in-house by the charity; and from the rudimentary cork lifejackets of the 1850s to the full protective kit each crew member is now issued with.

The RNLI’s lifesaving reach and remit has also developed over the course of 200 years. Today, it operates 238 lifeboat stations, including four on the River Thames, and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK and Ireland. It designs and builds its own lifeboats and runs domestic and international water safety programmes.

While much has changed in 200 years, two things have remained the same – the charity’s dependence on volunteers, who give their time and commitment to save others, and the voluntary contributions from the public which have funded the service for the past two centuries.

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Renewed partnership safeguards access and conservation at Castlemartin



A NEW agreement has been made to provide continued funding for a Ranger Service on the Military Ranges of South Pembrokeshire.

Senior leaders and staff from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority met recently at the Castlemartin Range to renew their longstanding partnership, which ensures safe and sustainable access and recreational opportunities for the public, while safeguarding the area’s unique and rare wildlife which thrives alongside military training.

Those attending the meeting, which was hosted by Lt Col Richard Pope and Major John Poole, were able to experience this for themselves at Stack Rocks, where the colonies of razorbills and guillemots are gathering at the start of the breeding season.

Current Castlemartin Ranger, Lynne Houlston, explains: “This role is not only vital in ensuring that the area remains accessible to the public when military use allows, but also that the many rare and special plants, birds and animals of the Range are safeguarded.”

These include chough, marsh fritillary butterflies, grey seals, green winged orchids and spectacular colonies of seabirds, especially during the breeding season.

Part of Lynne’s role is to ensure that people can visit and use the Ranges for activities like climbing while ensuring that they do not disturb the nesting sites of these protected species.

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of NRW said: “Working with our partners to ensure this role and partnership agreement continues is so important to us at Natural Resources Wales. The conservation of the many special species found at Castlemartin Range is vital to ensure their sustainability in the future. The Ranger role enables this to happen alongside allowing visitors to enjoy the beautiful landscape for recreational purposes, which has benefits for wellbeing and allows nature and people to thrive together.”

Chief Executive of the Park Authority, Tegryn Jones, said: “We are delighted to welcome the renewal of this important partnership. The Castlemartin Range offers some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Wales, and it’s vital that we ensure this can be enjoyed by visitors in a way that protects its special wildlife. The Ranger plays a crucial role in achieving this balance, and this renewed commitment will ensure that the Castlemartin Range can continue to be a place where people and nature thrive.”

DIO Principal Environmental Manager, Richard Brooks said: “DIO is delighted to be joining NRW and PCNPA in signing the next iteration of this important partnership. Lynne has been in post for 21 years and, supported by a Seasonal Ranger, has clearly demonstrated the key benefits of this joint funded Ranger Service. The role plays a key part in the successful integration of public access, wildlife management and monitoring and military training and activity”.

Several guided walks taking in the history, wildlife and archaeology of the Castlemartin Range are planned for the summer months. To find out more and book a place, visit

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