Dad sentenced for breaking baby daughter's leg
A BABY'S sudden scream caused its mother to rush from her shower to a bedroom where it was with her father.
The baby's dad quickly told the mother there was something wrong with her leg, and he had been changing her nappy.
The leg was "floppy" and an ambulance called to take the eight-week-old infant to an Ipswich hospital.
The medical diagnosis: Her left leg was broken.
Police questioned the father and he was later charged with assaulting his tiny daughter.
Going before the District Court at Ipswich, the 25-year-old Ipswich man, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault causing bodily harm to the infant - domestic violence offences.
Crown prosecutor Noel Needham said the offences happened on August 25, 2016 when the man was 23.
The man cannot be named for legal reasons.
Mr Needham said baby was left in her father's care on a bed for a short time while the mother showered.
"From the bathroom (the mother) heard the baby scream. (The father) says he was in the process of changing her when her leg came out," Mr Needham said.
"It was obvious to the mother the child's leg was not functioning properly."
Mr Needham said the baby suffered a displaced femur, a fracture to the left leg.
The paediatric specialist's medical opinion was that it was likely caused by a twisting force or by bending, levering force.
The force required being moderate to severe "and that at two months old could not do it to herself".
Mr Needham said inner bruises were found on her left buttock, and small pin-point bruises on both sides of the buttocks that were associated with blunt force.
"It is clear he inflicted force on the child," Mr Needham said. "He attempted to explain away, he indicated he had no idea how the leg became floppy.
"It is a significant thing to break the leg of a two-month-old."
The Crown sought an 18-month jail term, with it open for the court to release him immediately to parole.
Mr Needham noted there was no demonstrated evidence of rehabilitation by the father who had prior offences, including an $80,000 arson of a government housing property finalised by the District Court in 2012.
Defence barrister Matthew McDermott said there was "no malicious intent" by the father and the injury was from being too rough although this did not excuse it.
Mr McDermott said the father pleaded guilty because what he did was unlawful and done in a reckless way.
In his submission before Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC, Mr McDermott said the father had diagnosed ADHD and a low mental capacity which could manifest itself in stressful situations.
The father is attending a clinical psychologist in relation to anger and domestic violence and it was reported to the court that he engages well.
"He recognises he was too rough with the child and that the force applied was unlawful, too rough," Mr Needham said.
"He called out (to the baby's mother) 'hey, her leg looks funny'."
Mr McDermott said it was apparent from the baby's scream that something happened and the father made no effort to hide it.
"He didn't want to be blamed but the child's care was too important," he said.
Mr McDermott told the court that as a consequence, the father was not able to have contact with his daughter now for two years and both his children were in foster care.
"The victim was two months old, small, premature and particularly vulnerable, that's not denied," Mr McDermott said.
"Fortunately full recovery is expected. There was no pattern of violence."
Mr McDermott sought an Intensive Corrections Order of six to 12 months as being an appropriate sentence because of its strict regime and the father's personal circumstances.
Judge Horneman-Wren said the precise mechanism of the injury cause was unknown but infants were not normally injured without the trauma being caused by the care givers.
He noted the father's prior property offences and for arson and wilful damage, and his ADHD medical diagnosis included a mild mental retardation and obsessive compulsive disorder.
The father had previously spent 118 days in jail.
Judge Horneman-Wren said infants were the most vulnerable and needed to be protected.
The father was sentenced to 12 months jail, suspended immediately for three years.
He also received a two-year probation order where he will be supervised and given assistance.