Justice Stephen Hall

Photographic evidence to be used by prosecutors against a man accused of murdering and sexually assaulting a 10-month-old baby is potentially so shocking he has been granted a judge-alone trial.

Mervyn Kenneth Douglas Bell was granted an application for the judge-alone trial yesterday after Supreme Court Justice Stephen Hall found the potentially shocking and upsetting nature of photos was likely to impede the ability of some jurors to apply their minds dispassionately to the evidence.

"It is probable that at least some jurors will find the photographs so upsetting that they will be unable to properly consider the relevance and significance of what they depict," Justice Hall said.

Mr Bell has pleaded not guilty to murdering and sexually penetrating the baby boy on March 20 last year and is due to face a trial next month.

The State case includes evidence of injuries established in an autopsy - including fractures to an arm and leg, multiple abrasions and bruises to his head, torso, arms, legs, hands and feet, burns to various parts of his body and bruising to his genital area.

In yesterday's decision, Justice Hall said evidence would be presented using a computer program which depicted the injuries on an avatar image.

But he said it was necessary to present photographs of some of the injuries, which made it readily apparent the victim was a young child.

He said while judges were not immune to the emotional impact of evidence, they were accustomed to the discipline of putting aside these feelings and applying themselves dispassionately.

The West Australian

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