Woman begs judge not to jail her husband for shaking their baby
A FATHER who shook his baby, causing severe injuries, has been spared a prison sentence following an intervention from his wife who pleaded with his judge to keep him out of jail.
Imposing a five-year suspended sentence in the Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Judge Sean O'Donnabhain said that the man's wife "made a particularly effective plea to me on behalf of her husband and herself and her child" because the man's financial contribution was vital to the family and the child's medical costs.
The court had heard that the man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – had shaken his child because he was under pressure, distressed, that the child was a source of aggravation to him at the time of the incident, and that the child suffered injuries as a result.
The court further heard that initially the man said nothing about the incident until the child was taken to Temple Street Children's Hospital for treatment.
Previously, Garda James O'Donoghue told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that an ambulance was called to the house on the morning of November 26, 2011, to bring the baby to hospital.
Hospital staff subsequently expressed concern that it might be a case of shaken baby syndrome and the baby was transferred to Temple Street Children's Hospital.
The father later admitted that during a feeding of the baby in the middle of the night he became frustrated and angry with the child.
He admitted that on a second incident, when the child would not settle at night, he held the baby firmly around the chest.
Judge O'Donnabhain said that while he had been told that the child had made progress, it would need constant monitoring and its mother was concerned about the child making it through developmental milestones.
"It's a long-term problem that the mother will have to supervise," said Judge O'Donnabhain.
"The worry, grief ... on the mother is enormous." He praised the work of the health board and the staff who were helping the family, and was told that while the baby's parents initially separated after the incident, they were now back living together.
"It is accepted by the State the methodology was reckless, rather than intentional," said Judge O'Donnabhain, adding that the probation services said that the man was at a low risk of re-offending.
While he was told there was a low risk of re-offending, Judge O'Donnabhain imposed a five-year suspended sentence, which he said reflected the seriousness of the offence.
The family's GP and counsellor are to provide reports on an annual basis.