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Prosecutors detail effort to conceal abuse of tot

Union Leader Correspondent

August 19. 2013 11:11PM

Jessica Linscott, 24, of Plaistow is serving 2 1/2 to 7 years in state prison for felony witness tampering. She told police her son suffered from "seizures" and self-inflicted injuries (POOL PHOTO/JIM COLE/AP)

BRENTWOOD — A Plaistow mother told hospital doctors that her 3-year-old son was not being abused at the hands of her boyfriend, but suffering from seizures because he was "hitting himself in the face," according to affidavits made public Monday.

The boy's injuries led to the conviction of his mother, Jessica Linscott, 24, who began serving 2½ to seven years in state prison on July 16 after pleading guilty to witness tampering and endangering the welfare of a child, according to prosecutors.

The steps Linscott and her boyfriend, Roland Dow, 27, allegedly took to conceal abuse last November are detailed in affidavits for two search warrants used to search their Main Street apartment. The documents also reveal that Linscott tried to deflect questions about her son's injuries by telling police to review videos of her son that she created with Dow.

Her son, James Nicholson, suffered "a significant brain injury," first-degree burns on his wrist and arm and second-degree burns on his hand, affidavits said.

Dow is scheduled to go on trial the week of Oct. 7 in Rockingham County Superior Court for first- and second-degree assault and eight other charges in connection with Nicholson's injuries.

The New Hampshire Union Leader petitioned the court to unseal the two search warrants after the defense asked a judge to throw out evidence related to a search of a home computer that yielded videos of Linscott's son.

Plaistow police first interviewed Linscott at Children's Hospital in Lebanon in the early morning hours of Nov. 15.

She first told police that she believed her son may have autism and had unexplained tantrums and seizures.

"Jess said in the past 2-3 days, he has been biting his lips and inner cheeks until they bleed, hitting himself in the face, banging his head on the tub and denying that any of this hurt him," Plaistow police detective George Wickson said in a sworn affidavit.

Linscott and Dow showed hospital doctors three videos of Nicholson to prove the boy was acting abnormally, the affidavits said. One of the clips showed Nicholson in a tub while his head had "light contact" with a wall, police said.

The doctors said the injuries were not consistent with what they were being told.

During a separate interview with police, Linscott claimed that a burn on her son's hand "was caused when James was having a seizure and fell near the toilet and cut his hand on the uncovered screw at the base," Wickson said in the affidavit.

"I told her that I did not believe her because that story was not consistent with the injury," Wickson added. "She became very upset and I explained why we were looking into this matter. She insisted that I look at the video that they had recorded while James was having a seizure."

Wickson said when he watched a few minutes of one video, he noticed the boy was in a "catatonic state" and had a "very large bruise that was (on) one side of his leg."

"I asked her to explain how the bruises had occurred and she got very upset by my asking this," Wickson said in the affidavit. "I asked her why she did not call fire or an ambulance and she yelled at me that she did not want to talk to us anymore."

Dow told police that James Nicholson's eyes "had been crossing for two days," the affidavit said. "They had talked to James and he told them that he could not see, so they brought him to Exeter (Hospital)."

The injuries prompted the doctors to have Nicholson transferred to Children's Hospital later that day.

Police obtained search and arrest warrants for Linscott and Dow's apartment on Main Street two days after their visit to the hospital. The couple fled and was apprehended at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. on Nov. 28.

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