A Donegal man who shook his baby girl three times in the space of a few weeks has been given community service.
The nine-week-old baby girl sustained broken ribs and brain haemorrhaging in the third incident which resulted in her being taken to hospital in Dublin.
After her admission to hospital medical staff believed her injuries were not the result of an accident and the man admitted shaking her on three separate occasions.
The 21-year-old, who has not been named to protect the identity of his daughter and her mother, admitted assaulting the child causing harm on dates unknown in April 2011, again between May 1 and May 17, 2011 and on a third occasion on May 18, 2011.
A medical report said the child has some difficulties with speech and walking.
Judge John O’Hagan said he would not jail the man because he must keep in mind the interests of the child who has supervised contact with her father every weekend.
The man was babysitting for his former partner who had gone to look after her ill father. Prosecuting counsel Patricia McLaughlin told Letterkenny Circuit Court the man was trying to get the baby to sleep when he noticed she was in distress. He contacted her mother who came running back and an ambulance was called. The child suffered convulsions and was found to have bleeding on the brain and cracked ribs. Doctors discovered recent and older injuries to the child who was sent to the intensive care unit of Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.
The child’s mother told the court that the child is “slower than she should be” as a result of her injuries but has progressed better than had been predicted.
Defence counsel, Charlotte Simpson said the man had felt sick and ashamed after admitting what he had done.
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She said he felt extremely guilty and had been suicidal since the admissions. There is not much chance of him re-offending and his prospects of rehabilitation are good, she said.
Judge John O’Hagan said he was sure on the evidence that the man had not intended the injuries but had been trying to calm the baby. He said a custodial sentence was not an option. “I could not in all conscience send a man to prison for what he as done,” he said.
The judge said the defendant’s probation report was one of the most positive he has ever seen.
“He knows this was absolutely the wrong thing to do and I do not think he will do it again.
“He has pleaded guilty at the absolute earliest opportunity. He admitted what he had done and he was devastated when he was told the results of what he had done.”
He sentenced the man to one year in prison on each count to be substituted with 150 hours of community service.