'Ashamed' Northampton father given suspended sentence for shaking seven-week-old son in fit of temper

Baby's 'lucky' recovery from brain injuries and defendant's rehabilitation saves him from going straight to jail

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 5:14 pm

An 'ashamed' Northampton father who shook his seven-week-old son in an unexplained fit of temper was given a suspended prison sentence today (Thursday, July 22).

The baby, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suffered brain injuries after the incident but is thankfully recovering and developing normally, the court heard.

The dad, who also cannot be named to protect the identity of the baby, initially denied any involvement but pleaded guilty on June 16 at Northampton Crown Court to inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent

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Northampton Crown Court

At the same court today, Recorder Stuart Sprawson sentenced him to 15 months in jail, suspended for two years, in 'exceptional circumstances'.

"For some reason during the day you lost your temper and became angry in some manner or form towards [your son]," the judge told the defendant.

"You've been unable to articulate what happened that day and explain in more detail, probably because you have put a bar across your memory as you don't wish to think back to the act as you are quite clearly ashamed.

"As a consequence of you shaking [your son], he sustained what are well known as shear tears.

"Shear tears are caused by the violent shaking of a young child and medical experts here and more broadly acknowledge that they were almost certainly caused by your intervention in trying to settle [your son] by inappropriate and violent means.

"As a consequence you heard him screaming and that prompted you to immediately recognise there was a problem either consciously or unconsciously you were responsible for that discomfort."

Jonathan Eley, prosecuting, said, when arrested, the father denied shaking the baby saying it must have been caused by an electronic rocker, which experts discounted.

Caroline Bray, defending, said: "He acknowledges he lost his temper and feels deeply ashamed of that.

"He momentarily lost his temper and shook the child and caused mercifully short-lived injuries through luck rather than judgement.

"He's so ashamed of it he doesn't want to say it out loud other than briefly saying it to me at the back of the court - it's deep shame."

Ms Bray asked for any sentence to be suspended to reflect the progress he has made to change his behaviour.

Recorder Sprawson said: "What we do know is the latest scans show that after the head trauma, [your son] is developing normally.

"If it was then there's no question in my mind, you would face an immediate prison sentence but that's more luck than judgement."

As well as the suspended sentence, the defendant was told to pay £250 in costs and complete 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days.