Father to stand trial for baby death

Joby Anthony Rowe arrives at the Bendigo Magistrates' Court.
Joby Anthony Rowe arrives at the Bendigo Magistrates' Court.

A MAN charged with murdering his three-month-old baby has pleaded not guilty after a two-day committal hearing in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court.

Police allege Joby Anthony Rowe, 24, murdered his baby daughter through shaken baby syndrome in their house in a central Victorian town. He has been committed to stand trial.

The court heard evidence from Royal Children’s Hospital director of forensic pediatric medicine Dr Joanna Tully, who was questioned on the cause of a fatal subdural hemorrhage.

Dr Tully concluded shaken baby syndrome was the likely cause of death.

“There was no external evidence or bone evidence of impact to the head. (She) did have bleeding around her spine, the most likely cause of that could have been impact,” she said.

A forensic pathologist report raised the prospect that the hemorrhage could have been from childbirth, and had re-bled, causing the baby’s death.

But Dr Tully said even if a re-bleeding event occurred, they were rarely fatal.

“I don’t think there was any evidence in this case that re-bleeding was considered, no evidence in my report that there was old bleeding,” she said.

“What’s generally accepted with re-bleeds is that they don’t tend to cause catastrophic collapse.”

Rowe was charged with murder after the baby was believed to have choked on formula, then went into cardiac arrest in their central Victorian home on August 29.

Rowe was alone with the baby when the mother arrived home.

The baby was airlifted to the Royal Children’s Hospital, but was declared dead the next day.

Dr Tully said it was unlikely that choking on formula was the cause of the fatal hemorrhage.

“(Choking) certainly doesn’t result in subdural hemorrhage,” she said.

“In a normally developing infant of 12 weeks, in my years as a pediatrician, I have never seen that scenario.”

On Thursday, the court heard how Rowe and the mother “shared” the parenting load and both were devoted parents.

The baby – born at 32 weeks – had been distressed earlier on the day of her death and was unable to be settled. The mother had not wanted to leave her with Rowe in the distressed state, but eventually went to work.

When she arrived home, she was greeted by Rowe who told her there was “something wrong” with their child.

Rowe will appear at a directions hearing in the Supreme Court in Melbourne on July 22.