A pathologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr Sunday Soyemi, on Tuesday, said a blackish substance was found in the intestine of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni (Junior), a pupil of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos, who died in controversial circumstances.
Soyemi stated this while being cross-examined by the family’s lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), before the coroner inquest set up to unravel the cause of the boy’s death.
The news of Sylvester’s death went viral following a social media post by his cousin, Perry Oromoni, who alleged that some senior pupils of the college beat him up in his hostel because he refused to join a cult.
But the school denied the claim, stating that the boy complained of leg pains following an injury he sustained while playing football.
A coroner inquest was subsequently set up to look into the circumstances surrounding the death.
At the Tuesday proceedings, Soyemi, while being led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Babajide Martins, said the first autopsy carried out on the corpse was botched because the process was not properly done.
Soyemi, who faulted the first autopsy report, noted that some organs that would have revealed whether the victim died of ingestion of a poisonous substance were not cut by the first pathologist.
According to Soyemi, the deceased had a generalised infection that could have been treated with massive doses of antibiotics, intravenous fluid and blood transfusion.
He said, “Following the order for a post-mortem examination issued by the coroner, I conducted a second autopsy on the body of the deceased. An initial interim report was issued and finally, a full autopsy report was also issued to the office of the coroner.
“Prior to the conduct of the autopsy, I did a total body radiograph to rule out any skeletal injury, that is, fracture; none was found and the radiologist confirmed there was no fracture. Before I started the autopsy, the doctor who conducted the first autopsy was in attendance and he was in attendance throughout. So, I observed that the autopsy was not properly done. All that was not properly done is documented in my statement.
“For example, at the first autopsy, the pathologist never opened the oesophagus; the oesophagus is the food pipe. He also did not open the trachea; it is the air path through which we breathe. These are vital things that he should not have missed out.
“He concluded his report as chemical intoxication. For one to be intoxicated with a chemical, that chemical has to pass through the oesophagus, that is the food path. For someone that has not opened the food path, he cannot talk about chemical intoxication. A chemical that would be injurious to one, after ingestion, should cause injuries on the oesophagus because it would pass through the oesophagus, so it should never have been anything near chemical intoxication if he did not open the oesophagus.
“He also did not open the lungs; he did not detach the lungs from the heart. If he had done that and waded the lungs, it would tell him that something is wrong with the lungs. These are some of the many things he did not do. He did a botched autopsy and this was the cause of the controversy surrounding this case.”
However, Soyemi, during cross-examination by Falana, told the inquest that he did not carry out any test on the black substance found in the deceased’s intestine on the grounds that LASUTH did not have a laboratory to test poisonous substances.
He further admitted that the substance found in the intestine could have been anything as it was not tested to confirm what it was.
Soyemi also denied authorising a television interview granted by the doctor representing Dowen College, Dr Iwikwe Isabella, who spoke on the autopsy findings.
He said, “That’s not the practice. I was embarrassed when the report was being discussed on TV. I was embarrassed in the sense that she didn’t perform the autopsy; she observed all through. It’s not the normal practice even if you have done the autopsy.”
Soyemi, who noted that his findings showed that the deceased had lobar pneumonia, infection of the lung, liver, and also infection on the right ankle, maintained that the deceased died of septicaemia.
He explained that if the deceased was physically assaulted or beaten, all the exposed areas would show haemorrhage.
Earlier, the presiding magistrate, Mikhail Kadiri, had a heated argument with Falana when the counsel objected to a question the director of public prosecutions asked Soyemi.
Falana noted that Kadiri was fond of saying the inquest was not a regular court at his convenience.
However, the duo later settled the matter amicably. PUNCH