Father avoids jail for shaking twins

A father’s grievous, despicable and indefensible behaviour in shaking his infant twin son and daughter violently in an attempt to get them to stop crying has resulted in a six-year suspended jail sentence.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin at Cork Circuit Criminal Court said he was significantly taken with the plea made to him previously by the man’s ex-wife and the mother of the two children.

“If he goes to prison it is going to cause greater hardship for the victims. The welfare of the victims is dependent on the welfare of the mother and her welfare is dependent on the financial support he readily gives to her.

“I acknowledge the grievousness of the behaviour, the badness of [father’s name] behaviour. It is despicable and cannot be defended but in view of all the circumstances when I consider the effect on the victims, I will impose a sentence of six years suspended from today’s date.”

The defendant has only supervised access to his children, the judge was told.

A HSE investigation was triggered by the diagnosis of non-accidental head injuries as a result of being violently shaken.

It was only after 10 days of investigation, that also saw gardaí interviewing people who had dealings with the children, that the man admitted what he had done.

His ex-wife previously stated: “As a result of the fact that my ex-husband took 10 days to disclose that he was the perpetrator, my children were received into care. That has had a detrimental effect. I will question the emotional/psychological impact of that especially on [my eldest child] for the rest of my life.”

The defendant, aged 41, pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the two twin children.

Sergeant Eoin Buckley said: “It is our view that this was reckless rather than intentional to harm his children. Not that it makes it any lesser but I don’t believe there was any intention whatsoever in his actions.”

The mother of the two injured children said she has had to stop working and care for them full time.

Tom Creed, defending, asked the judge to accept, as the defendant’s ex-wife accepted, that he still loved her and the children and would gladly go to jail if there was some way of providing for his family.

“He will work as hard as he can to make sure they will get as much support as he can. That is the only way he can make amends.”

Sgt Buckley said the matter first came to light when one of the infants got convulsions and was rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis. The little girl’s twin brother was also taken to hospital to be examined and in both cases, non-accidental head injury was diagnosed.

Ten days after it came to light, the man “admitted violently shaking each of the children to calm them down from crying”.

Mr Creed said the medical reports showed the boy at a normal developmental level and the girl was at the bottom of the normal range. The children’s mother said she was now totally preoccupied with developmental milestones and was constantly attending at various medical appointments.


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