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Not guilty: boyfriend cleared of baby death

IT’S OVER: Brett Penrose could leave court a free man on Friday after 10 days of his trial for the manslaughter of Wodonga baby Charlotte Keen.MORE than 11 years after he was first questioned over the death of Charlotte Keen, a jury has found Brett Penrose not guilty of causing her death.
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The 44-year-old faced 10 days of a manslaughter trial at Melbourne Supreme Court before a jury cleared himafter less than three hours of deliberations on Friday.

Barrister John Kelly foreshadowed the outcome in his closing address to the jury when he said “we might never know” what happened to the 11-month-old Wodonga baby.

Both sides agreed with evidence the tragic death could not have been an accident.

Royal Children’s Hospital neurosurgeon David Wallace had treated Charlotte for a “severe closed head injury”.

Prosecutor Moya O’Brien said the doctor’s analysis was the injury was unlike those caused bycar accidents or falls.

“He cannot recall seeing retinal harm in a child with accidental injuries,” she said.

But the prosecution did not have enough evidence to provePenrose was responsible.

He admittedhe had been looking after Charlotte on the night of December 11, 2004, while his girlfriend, Renee Jones, was out with friends.

Ms Jones noticed something was very wrong the next morning when she found her daughter with a “floppy neck”.

Penrose denied he hurt the child when he madea statementtwo days later.

“I don’t know who is responsible for causing her death, but it’s definitely not me,” he said.

MrKelly created doubt for the jury by highlighting the fact other people had been in the Phefley Court home during the afternoon.

He said Penrose also claimed to hear a door slamming at 1.30am the next morning and assumed Ms Jones had returned home.

The defence turned the focus on the parenting ability of Ms Joneswho, as a 22-year-old first-time mum, was heard to regularly swear at Charlotte.

“The seeds are there, some frustration, for her to snap and that’s all it takes,”MrKelly said.

Charlotte’s father, Graeme Keen, was so traumatised by events of 2004 he had been left with no memory of the time.

He travelled to Melbourne for three days of the trial while both sides tried to negotiate a way for him to give evidence.

Prosecutor Susan Borg finally told Justice Terry Forrest Mr Keen was too unreliable to take the witness stand.

“The concern for the crown is that this trial be fair,” she said.

“He says ‘I have no memory of my statement and therefore I’d be saying yes to what you’re putting to me without any evidence’.”

Mr Keen’s 2004 statement and 2013 inquest evidence was read to the jury instead.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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