Optimism for future of shaken baby

An eight-month-old baby may make a full recovery from being shaken by his father, who has begun a home detention sentence at his parents’ home on Wednesday.

The boy’s mother has told the police she understands there are no long-lasting effects from the injury, which included a brain bleed.

The 28-year-old father’s defence counsel, Anselm Williams, told the Christchurch District Court sentencing session that the boy was “meeting his milestones” and appeared to be doing reasonably well.

The man has not seen the boy since the offending. He is now separated from his partner and although he has a Family Court order that will allow supervised access, this has not yet been arranged. He had now completed a Stopping Violence programme.

The man was appearing for sentence after pleading guilty in July to charges of assault on a child, and wounding him with reckless disregard for his safety.

Judge Paul Kellar said: “I don’t have any medical information about about the baby’s present condition, but I am informed that he is meeting his milestones which is excellent news and one can only be optimistic about the future.”

The father’s name has been suppressed after he admitted assaulting a child on March 16, and then shaking the same child two days later and throwing him into his cot “with a lot of force” when he would not settle.

The baby was hospitalised with a subdural brain bleed, retinal haemorrhaging to both eyes, and bruising to the face and both ears.

Judge Kellar said it was comparatively serious offending against a child who was vulnerable and defenceless, and who was entitled to rely on his father for his safety. “The sentence needs to denounce this conduct which seems all too prevalent in New Zealand society.”

He noted that the man had sought medical assistance for the boy immediately after the second incident, and he had made a full admission about what he had done.

The judge decided he did not need to impose a jail term and ordered the man to serve 10 months of home detention at his parents’ home, with six months of special release conditions to follow the sentence.

He granted final name suppression, which was not opposed by the police.


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