‘Overwhelmed’ dad broke newborn baby’s ribs by shaking him in ‘flash of temper’

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A dad who shook his baby son so hard he broke his ribs was "tired and overwhelmed" when he inflicted the sickening injuries.

The unnamed 33-year-old also broke the newborn's leg by pulling and twisting it on another occasion, and just weeks later dropped the then six-week-old on his head, causing a fractured skull.

His baby was taken to hospital and the dad blamed his son's head injury on his "boisterous" older sibling, lying that he had been in the shower at the time.

A doctor at James Cook University Hospital who examined the child said it appeared the head injury was the result of "significant force", Teesside Crown Court heard on Friday.

The baby's prior rib and leg injuries were also discovered at the time.

Prosecuting, Paul Newcombe said the three injuries were inflicted when the baby was between five and six and a half weeks of age.

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His dad eventually admitted what he'd done, claiming he had been "overwhelmed" by the baby's crying and lost control of his temper.

"He claimed he never intended to injure him but described being overwhelmed and sleep-deprived," Mr Newcombe said.

Paul Abrahams, defending, said his client was remorseful for his actions and was of previous good character.

He has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder which affects the ability to cope with stress and noise, the court heard.

The man pleaded guilty to three offences of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the newborn, who fortunately suffered no permanent effects.

Teesside Crown Court heard he had a "controlling and domineering" presence in his family, causing the little baby's mother to be frightened of him. She has since left him.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said he had no alternative but to jail the man for 30 months.

"The fact that there were three separate injuries which you caused on three separate occasions makes this a serious case," he said.

"It may be that [the baby's] mother and grandmother will take the view that no sentence will be long enough to reflect what you did.

"What you did has had a profound effect on your partner and her family."

He went on: "What makes this case even more serious is when [the baby] was taken to hospital, you were not initially frank with the medical staff as to what had happened.

"It was only later in the course of the family proceedings that you accepted that you were responsible for his injuries."

Cleveland Police has welcomed the jail sentence.

"This is one of the most distressing cases I have investigated during my policing career and it had a profound effect on all the agencies involved," Detective Sergeant Nicky Barker said outside the court today.

"The defendant inflicted almost unimaginable and horrific injuries on a tiny baby and left it until the last minute to plead guilty at family court earlier this summer.

"Because the defendant refused to immediately admit his actions, the rest of the family had to suffer further anguish and distress as it meant this complex and lengthy process continued over several months.

"On that note, I'd like to thank my colleagues in the Local Authority Social Services Department for their outstanding professionalism, support and assistance – this really was an excellent example of partnership working.

"I welcome the sentence passed today – we all have a part to play in protecting the most vulnerable members of society, and police and our partner agencies will do everything possible to bring to justice those who harm children."

He went on: "I hope the sentence also brings a degree of comfort to the child's mother and I wish her and the family well for the future.

"Finally I would like to remind anyone who has concerns for any child that they can contact police on 101 (or 999 if it's an emergency).

"You can also report anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org or to the NSPCC. Their website is at www.nspcc.org.uk or you can phone them on 0808 800 5000 or email [email protected]"

  • Crime
  • Family
  • Courts

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