A man who claimed that climate change or a recent plane trip had caused injuries to his three- month-old baby’s brain has been given a three year suspended sentence.
The 30-year-old man first told a hospital registrar that he had shaken the infant for up to 40 seconds to try to revive it after it had lost consciousness.
He later denied this account to Dr Owen Hensey, the consultant paediatrician at Temple Street Hospital.
He told the doctor that the child had been very irritable earlier in the day and would not settle.
The Saudi national with an address in Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm of his son by shaking him on August 4, 2011.
He cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.
After being brought to the hospital, the infant was found to have bleeding on the brain consistent with non accidental baby shaking.
A CT scan showed an older region of blood on the brain suggesting an injury of up to ten days old.
The court heard that the man had also turned up at the hospital with the baby ten days earlier.
The doctor asked the parents, a married couple from Saudi Arabia, if the child had been shaken but the father denied this.
Judge Martin Nolan noted that representatives from the HSE interviewed both parents and examined and watched their interactions with the child over a prolonged time before concluding they were both “safe parents”.
Reports also concluded that the father was at a low risk of re-offending or harming his son again.
“I must take the view that in moments of lack of control he shook the child violently,” Judge Nolan said before he added that there was “substantial mitigation” in the case including the man’s lack of previous convictions.
“I have also noted that child has made a full recovery,” Judge Nolan and that the family were “under a degree of stress at the time”.
He sentenced the man to three years in prison which he suspended in full on strict conditions including that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years.
Garda Detective Fergal Flynn told Tom O’Connell SC, prosecuting, that the man, a dental technician, never provided a satisfactory explanation for the injuries to them or the HSE.
His suggested explanations included climate change, the recent plane trip from Saudi Arabia, an incident with his brother and an incident with a pram.
The child and his mother have since returned to Saudi Arabia and the child has not exhibited any problems.
The court heard the injuries suffered by the child could have resulted in long term damage including learning disability, palsy and even blindness.
Defence counsel Bernard Condon SC said that the man and his wife are keen for their family to be reunited in Saudi Arabia.
Mr Condon said that a report from a fostering unit which kept the parents and the child under 24 hour observation described them both as “very loving and caring”.