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Radiologist says Malaki's skull was fractured

A specialist in radiology at the national hospital in Moto’otua has contradicted a pathologist’s report showing the late Malaki Jeremiah Tauiliili’s skull was not fractured. 

In bombshell testimony on Friday, Dr. Ming Xian Tong told the Court that his findings concluded that after two C.T. (Computerised Tomography) scans a fracture on Malaki’s skull was visible. 

The radiologist’s findings contradict a report from pathologist Dr. Paul Boterill that reported there was no post mortem skull fracture. 

Dr. Tong is the latest of several witnesses to give evidence in the ongoing trial of Herman Westerlund and Suapaina Savai’inaea. 

The defendants are accused of causing the death of Malaki by reckless intent to commit murder. 

They have both denied the charges including an alternative charge of manslaughter. 

“There was swelling on both sides of the brain but there was more swelling on the right side,” said Dr. Tong, who testified with assistance from a translator. 

Referring to one of the reports he wrote for Malaki, the specialist said two C.T. scans showed that the deceased had a fracture in his skull. 

But the findings from Dr. Tong were questioned by Queen’s Counsel, Aaron Perkins who pointed out the findings conflicted with those from the pathologist. 

Mr. Perkins put it to the doctor that if a pathologist found no fracture the assumption should be that there was none. 

But Dr. Tong, who has worked at the national hospital for six years, disagreed maintaining that his report should be preferred. 

The Q.C. told Dr. Tong that the report from Dr. Boterill found that there was no fracture. 

He asked the witness whether apparent fractures on C.T. scans can be misinterpreted. 

Mr. Perkins put it to the radiologist that since the pathologist had conducted a physical examination of the deceased then his opinion should be prefered. 

But Dr. Tong maintained his belief there was a fracture in the skull; what he described as a mild displacement of bones in the head not meeting together. 

Mr. Perkins then asked the specialist if he believed in the saying that a pathologist’s interpretation should be the gold standard, as they inspect injuries up close. 

The witness said he understood the meaning of the saying. But Dr. Tong said if he answered in the affirmative it would imply he was not confident with his own report and was therefore conflicted.  

Mr. Perkins then told the witness that although the pathologist’s report says that there was no fracture the Court is yet to hear from him and could change his evidence to say there is a fracture. 

He urged Dr. Tong not to feel conflicted about his report. 

Mr. Perkins asked Dr. Tong why he did not mention “the fracture” in a second report on the deceased’s condition. 

“You talked about a skull or a piece of bone missing from the skull that was because of the operation but not the fracture,” asked Mr. Perkins. 

In response, Dr. Tong said there was still a fracture but conceded he did not include this in his second report. 

Mr. Perkins also queried the reliability of the national hospital’s C.T. machine. 

Dr. Tong said sometimes it played up but only very rarely and only due to overuse. 

The witness added that the machine was working well when he conducted his examination. 

The hearing continues on Saturday. 

 

 

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