Dad smashed crying baby's skull in rage

Michael Lavery

A FOUR-month-old baby boy's "very serious" injuries inflicted by his father could have proved fatal, a court heard.

The 26-year-old father, who admitted hitting his baby son off the side of a cot, told gardai the infant's crying "irritated him, especially when he had drugs and drink taken".

The baby's injuries included a fractured skull, three fractured ribs, black eyes, "carpet burns" to his nose and bruising to ankles and wrists.

The child sustained the injuries over a six-week period in the home he shared with his young parents who were not able to cope with a baby, Judge Carroll Moran heard at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee.

The father, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to wilfully ill-treating a child.

The offences happened over a two-month period when the baby was two to four months old and came to light when a paediatrician at Kerry General Hospital became concerned after the child was admitted on April 13, 2009.

The paediatrician found the injuries were not caused accidentally and one of the broken ribs was healing, suggesting the injury had been inflicted at an earlier stage. A social worker contacted Killarney gardai, who started an investigation.

Sgt Miriam Mulhall Nolan said the defendant made a voluntary statement to gardai in which he blamed the child's mother, saying she had caused the injuries. When he was arrested, he stuck to this story.

The baby was taken into care and the HSE arranged for psychological assessments to be done on both parents. It was duringthis that the father said he had inflicted the injuries.


He made a further statement to gardai admitting this. "His explanation was that the baby's crying irritated him, especially when he had drinks and drugs taken," Sgt Mulhall Nolan said.

"He said he wasn't able to cope and he'd set about frightening the baby and then he would shake him."

Social worker Gaye Browne said some of the injuries could have been fatal, according to experts. The judge, who said the accused was facing three years in prison, adjourned sentencing for one year on condition the father continues to engage with a psychologist, abstains from illegal drugs and does not get into trouble.