Man jailed for blinding baby son in a fit of rage
Published 24/03/2010 | 05:00
A DRUG addict who violently shook his 11-week-old son, leaving him permanently blind and brain-damaged, has been jailed for nine years.
The 25-year-old Meath resident, who cannot be named for legal reasons, initially told gardai the child had fallen off some cushions he had put on the table but later admitted he had shaken and slapped him because of a "build-up of anger".
Calling it one of the most tragic and sad cases he had come across, Judge Patrick McCartan said he wanted to impose a lengthy sentence to reflect the court's "serious disgust" with the offence.
He said it was difficult to comprehend the suffering the child will have to face as he grows up and that it was easier to appreciate the suffering the child's mother and grandmother are now enduring.
The child's mother and grandmother have had to quit their jobs to become full-time carers. "An innocent child has had its life utterly destroyed," said Judge McCartan at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
"Even still it is not clear what actually happened. The accused gave the gardai three different versions of events. What is clear is that the child was left with the most appalling injuries."
The judge continued: "The impact is immense and lifelong. (The child) was born bright, happy and vibrant. For his mother to now see him in this condition is very difficult."
Taking into account the father's remorse and guilty plea, he suspended the final three years of the 12-year sentence on condition that he undergoes probation supervision for two years on his release.
The father pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to the baby on February 7, 2009 at their then Dublin home.
Earlier, the court was told the child's mother had left the baby with the father that afternoon. When she returned home at 2.30pm, she found the child on the couch -- bruised, limp and gasping for air.
The father claimed that the child had fallen and hit his head on the coffee table. The baby was rushed to Temple Street Children's Hospital.
He had trouble breathing and reduced consciousness. It became clear that the child had a brain injury and he spent five weeks in hospital.
It was discovered that he had "significant permanent brain abnormalities" consistent with non-accidental shaking.
He is eight to nine months behind the expected development of an infant and also has screaming fits.
The father said the child had been crying for about 20 minutes while he was having a phone conversation with his cousin about his drug addiction. He said he did not hit the baby because he was crying but because of "a build-up of anger".