Father shook baby son until he was limp

Court told man blamed financial pressures and sleep deprivation

A father who became frustrated with his colicky, eight-week-old baby shook him until he became limp and an ambulance had to be called to rush the child to hospital.

The father pleaded guilty to two counts of assault, one of causing harm and the other of causing serious harm to the boy.

Defence barrister, Seamus Roche, said at the sentencing hearing at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday that the father had been under financial pressure as a result of the downturn of the economy.

Mr Roche said: “It is an extraordinarily difficult case. It is inexcusable on one level and should never happen.

“There are certain realities about how it came to happen, there was financial pressure and he was suffering from sleep deprivation.

“It does not excuse what happened, but it might explain why he snapped,” he said.

Garda James O’Donoghue said the ambulance was called to the house on November 26, 2011, at 7.20 in the morning.

The ambulance crew was told that a two-month old baby was having difficulty breathing.

Staff at the hospital were concerned that might have been a case of what is called baby-shaking syndrome and the parents were spoken to in relation to the matter but no admissions were made.

Two days later the child was being transferred to Temple Street children’s hospital.

While en route, the defendant made admissions to his wife, saying not that he had thrown the baby but had “roughly placed the baby into the baby bouncer.” His wife notified the consultant.

Later, when interviewed, the child’s father admitted that during a feeding of the baby in the middle of the night he became frustrated and angry with the child.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said he had difficulty understanding the defendant’s euphemism about placing the baby roughly.

The defendant admitted that on a second incident, again when the child would not settle at night, he held the baby firmly around the chest until the baby became limp.

The defendant then called his wife and the ambulance was called.

Mr Roche said that the defendant and his wife had separated for a period but were now back together and had been doing well since what he described as that dark period in their lives.

The mother said that the child was now aged two and was doing well.

Garda O’Donoghue did refer to concerns for the child’s ongoing development.

However, the mother repeated that the child was happy and doing well.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “This a very disturbing case. I want to consider everything that has been put before me and digest it fully. I will remand him until Friday and I will make a decision then.”

The accused, who was remanded on bail, cannot be named as it would identify the infant victim.


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