Wednesday 13 December 2017

Father jailed after 'losing the head' and hitting four-week-old baby for crying

Elaine Keogh

A MAN who told gardai he “lost the head” and hit his four-week-old daughter when she wouldn’t stop crying is starting a four-year jail term.

The baby was kept in hospital for four days and treated for bruising and swelling to her head, face and legs.

According to her mother, the infant has recovered physically but she screams around all men except for her grandfather and her uncle.

The mother said she was “deeply shocked” when doctors told her the child had been assaulted.

She had spent days in the hospital watching her bruising appear and “knowing the child would be taken off her”.

The man (23) pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the infant at a location in Louth.

The incident happened when he was minding the baby while the mother went shopping.

Judge Leonie Reynolds said it was one of the “most disturbing” cases of its type she had ever come across.

She added: “The consequences could have proven life-threatening or even fatal.”

On the day of the assault – April 2, 2012 – the couple had brought the infant to their GP because she was colicky.

That afternoon, while his girlfriend was out, the father gave the baby a bottle and she fell asleep. But he told gardai that the baby started “crying, crying, crying” when she woke up later.

He told gardai he had winded the baby but that she wouldn’t stop crying and said: “I didn’t know what to do.”

The court heard he put the baby on the sofa because he “couldn’t listen to her crying”.

She seemed to be warm from the crying, so he took off the outfit she had on and then, as he told gardai: “I don’t know what came over me. I lost the head.”

He slapped her with the tips of his fingers on the left leg and the top of her face and around each side of her head.

Asked how many times he had hit her, he said “probably twice” in each area. He said he had the fingers on his hands separated and that there were no fists used.

He told gardai he picked her up after he hit her, said he was sorry and gave her a kiss. However, he said he may have gripped her while lifting her.

Shortly afterwards his girlfriend came home. She became worried about the baby and took her to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, Co Down.

Doctors became concerned about the injuries and the baby was taken into care. It was not until April 19 that she was returned to her mother.

The court heard that the accused had not had any contact with his former partner or his daughter since the assault.

He has 17 previous convictions, began abusing cannabis when he was 12 and was given two years’ detention for burglary and assault in his mid-teens. He also has convictions for public-order offences.

Defence counsel Donough MacDonough said that while his girlfriend was pregnant the accused had been clean and off both drink and drugs.

However, around the time of the birth he fell off the wagon and was, unknown to her, drinking and using drugs.

The court heard that he was “a young man with a history of violence” and had admitted to a history of domestic violence, but had shown remorse and is ashamed of his behaviour.

The judge Reynolds said that he had caused “multiple injuries” to his four-week-old daughter.

The maximum sentence is five years; she imposed a four-year jail term.

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