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Man jailed for assaulting nine-month-old girl, leaving her with life-threatening skull fracture

The 26-year-old man assaulted his then partner’s nine-month-old daughter.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/

A MAN IN his twenties has been jailed for eight years for an assault on a nine-month-old girl which left her with a life-threatening fracture to the skull.

The 26-year-old man assaulted his then partner’s nine-month-old daughter who sustained serious injuries in the incident.

The man had gone on trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court charged with assault causing harm to the infant at a location in Co Cork on New Year’s Eve 2016.

A jury of five women and seven men took just under an hour and a half to find the man guilty of the charge.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons to avoid identifying the child, was also found guilty on two counts of neglect of the nine-month-old girl and her then two-year-old sister on dates between 20-30 December 2016.

Judge Sean O’Donnabhain said he agreed with the assessment of the DPP that the assault was at the higher end of the spectrum.

The court heard that the man had been left in charge of the nine-month-old while the child’s mother took the two-year-old to a playground.

The child had been somewhat unsettled on the morning in question. The mother of the child had managed to calm her down and she felt able to leave the youngster with her partner.

When the mother returned she spotted that the child had an injury to her head. Her eye was displaced and there was a dent in her skull. She had incurred a serious fracture.

The mother raised the alarm and the child was taken to a local hospital. She was subsequently transferred to CUH. The consultant paediatrician, Professor Jonathan Hourihane and consultant radiologist, Dr Michael Moore were both “taken aback” at the nature of the child’s injuries.

‘A real risk of death’

The damage was caused by a single blow to the head or the toddler’s head being held against a firm surface where it was struck at the back of its head. The skull had been fractured with fissures on both sides. The injuries were so severe as to be life-threatening that they could not be explained other than by an assault.

Judge O’Donnabhain said that the doctors believed the force involved was “massive”. Doctors had found an older shoulder fracture on the nine-month-old and an elbow fracture on the two-year-old. Both injuries were in keeping with a pattern of neglect.

Judge O’Donnabhain said he was concerned that the man never seemed to absorb the enormity of what he had done.

“One of my big worries is that if you pass within a furlong of the medical evidence, you would have been convinced that this man was guilty, yet that never seemed to penetrate through to him,” he said.

During the trial, the man had insisted that the injuries had nothing to do with him and that he had no idea how she sustained them.  The man had two previous convictions for assaults on two adults in Cork city.

Judge O Donnabhain said the child ran “a real risk of death” arising out of the incident.

He said that the older child now suffers from “the frozen watchfulness of a neglected child”. He said the appropriate headline sentence for the assault was ten years. However, taking the man’s youth into consideration he suspended the last two years.

He also imposed two consecutive two years sentence on the neglect charges to run concurrently. He suspended both. In effect, the man will serve twelve years with the final four years suspended. The two children are now in foster care.

The mother of the children previously pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect in relation to her children. She is serving a suspended sentence. Judge O’Donnabhain said that she was a “troubled” but “insightful” person.

She no longer has any contact with her offspring

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About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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