Cork man, 26, who shattered skull of girlfriend's infant daughter jailed for eight years

A young man who shattered the skull of his girlfriend’s infant daughter on New Year’s Eve and shows little remorse has been jailed for eight years.

The 26 year old defendant is not identified in order to protect the identity of the children.

A jury of five women and seven men delivered unanimous guilty verdicts of guilty of assault causing serious harm to the child on December 31 2016 and wilful neglect of the infant and the infant’s two-year-old sister on dates in December 2016.

Judge Seán ÓDonnabháin said: “Up to today he shows no insight and little remorse. You have here an enormous breach of trust, you have here the seriousness of an assault by a grown adult on a baby, you have here the level of force (which shocked doctors).

"This is an assault at the higher end of serious harm.”

The judge said aggravating factors included the fact that there was a real risk that the nine-month-old girl would die.

Brendan Kelly, defence barrister, said in relation to the judge’s comment that the accused appeared to be detached from what was going on and that the defendant had been a long-time cannabis user.

The judge imposed ten years for the serious assault and a consecutive two years for the two counts of neglect, and suspended the last four years that he would comply with the directions of the probation service for four years after his release from prison.

During the week-long trial, the mother of the nine-month-old girl testified that she returned home on the afternoon in question to see her ex-partner holding the infant “and her head was deformed on a huge scale.”

The young mother wept as she testified, “Her ear was nearly down by her jaw. You could see blood vessels. She just seemed in shock. I screamed. I was crying, like I am now.”

“I started firing angry question at him, why he did not answer the phone (earlier in the afternoon when she was out in the park with her other daughter and her own mother). He said, “I was downstairs smoking a cigarette (at the front door). I heard three bangs. She was on the floor.”

“I remember shouting at him. I asked him to leave. He asked me could he take the Playstation I got him for Christmas – that was the end of all, just get the hell out of my house,” she testified.

The infant was admitted to hospital on New Year’s Eve with up to ten fractures including a severely fractured skull.

The defendant denied the offence. The children’s mother said her relationship with the father of the two children had ended and she ended up in a relationship with the defendant.

She said she found it strange that the defendant would make comments about the two children stating that in various odd respects – such as the older girl’s ears - they had a likeness to their father.

Blaise O’Carroll, defence senior counsel, said the defendant got on fine with the two children and that there was never a problem.

A member of the ambulance crew who arrived at the house to bring the nine-month-old to hospital said the defendant told her that the infant was sitting in the cot crying when he went up to the bedroom.

The children’s mother was in a park with the older child and her own mother (the children’s grandmother) for a while that afternoon. The infant was minded by the defendant who had been in a relationship with the child’s mother for the past few months.

Paediatric consultant, Professor Jonathan Hourihan testified that there was a very significant skull fracture where there was a shattering of the skull.

Commenting on other fractures found in the infant he said, “It is not one skull fracture, it is nearly ten fractures.”

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