It has emerged that a man who admitted serious child cruelty offences against his baby son – who was just months old at the time – has previous convictions for sexually abusing a number of children when he was a youth.
An in-depth psychiatric assessment concluded “it would be extremely unwise and dangerous to ever allow him any parental responsibility for any child”.
Aged in his thirties, the defendant cannot be named to protect the identity of the child or any of his previous victims.
He admitted twice unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on the baby as well as child cruelty, committed on various dates between May and August 2021.
The defendant was a stay-at-home parent looking after the baby while his partner worked and days before the injuries were reported after staff at a daycare facility noted bruising to his face and alerted Social Services.
Dungannon Crown Court heard medical examination established the baby had suffered non-accidental injuries including fractures to his lower left leg, right shoulder and two ribs.
The defendant offered several explanations during the early stages of the investigation, but later admitted “squeezing” the baby’s chest causing the rib fractures, on one occasion hearing “a popping sound”.
The facial bruising resulted from him grabbing the baby’s cheeks when he was crying.
Addressing the defendant directly, Judge Brian Sherrard, said: “You accepted culpability for violence and cruelty towards your baby, when he was entirely helpless and dependent on his carers. Your baby was in your care and you abused the trust that society placed in you in the most egregious manner …. The gravitas of offending lies not only in causing these injuries but in allowing your baby to suffer from them.”
The judge continued: “He could not defend himself or raise an alarm. Nor could he inform others of who the perpetrator was, or the pain and suffering he was going through. You became increasingly frustrated and angry and these emotions were directed at your baby. You had low tolerance when he refused to feed. You got frustrated with his crying, lost control and snapped. You were taking drink and drugs to excess and very prone to provocation.”
In pre-sentence reports the defendant minimised his behaviour although not the extent of the baby’s injuries.
He sought to rationalise offending as resulting from unresolved issues from his own “wretched” childhood.
Judge Sherrard remarked: “While I don’t dismiss the legitimacy of this, it is no excuse.”
He also referenced offences committed by the defendant as a youth when he sexually abused a number of child relatives.
“You have previous convictions for causing harm to children. This case involved multiple incidents of serious cruelty and neglect. The baby was seriously injured and moreover, you ignored those injuries. The harm was quite apparent. Any right-thinking member of our community could not fail to be horrified by anybody causing a very young baby to sustain such serious injuries. The public have a very real concern for the welfare of our children.”
Returning to the psychiatric assessment Judge Sherrard said: “Perhaps the most shocking statement concludes it would be extremely unwise and dangerous to ever allow you any parental responsibility for any child.”
Describing this as “particularity damning and negative” he imposed a term of three years imprisonment, split into 12 months custody and 24 months on licence.
A Violent Offences Prevention Order was also handed down which will last for five years.