Tragic results of father’s ‘loss of control’
A sleep-deprived father's "momentary loss of control" left his baby son with traumatic lifelong injuries and cost him his young family, a court has heard.
The consequences of the man's "egregious" actions were laid bare at Penrith District Court, with his barrister saying a combination of inexperience, frustration and lack of sleep had overwhelmed an otherwise "loving father".
He was found guilty at trial of shaking the crying boy sometime before 7am on April 15, 2018 at a western Sydney home, and failing to seek medical attention despite his son displaying physical tremors and twitches for 24 hours.
When the baby was eventually taken to The Children's Hospital at Westmead the next day, doctors discovered it had been suffering from severe internal injuries.
Among the list of gruesome injuries read to the court were haemorrhages to the child's brain and spine, brain contusions and lacerations, and cervical spine damage.
The father, who cannot be named, faced a sentencing hearing on Friday seated alongside his co-accused, the boy's mother.
They were both found guilty of recklessly not providing for a child causing danger or serious injury.
The man, now 31, was also found guilty of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm.
Barrister Luke Brasch, acting for the mother, said although both parents were found guilty of the same offence, their respective conduct on the day was "worlds apart".
Mr Brasch said the jury's verdict only meant that she considered the possibility the child might need some sort of medical intervention, despite having "no knowledge" of how and when he was hurt.
The court heard she was sleeping upstairs while the father and child slept on a lounge on the floor below as part of an arrangement to give the mother a break.
"There was no selfish reason … or it was not covering up for someone else," Mr Brasch said.
"She had no knowledge of what happened."
He called her decision not to seek urgent medical care and instead go to the pharmacy to buy teething gel a "misjudgment".
Crown prosecutor Michael Clark, however, said the woman, 30, should have known what was normal behaviour for a baby as it was not her first child.
Mr Clark said the woman noticed the boy's tremors as early as 8am the day before he was taken to hospital, an assertion contested by Mr Brasch.
Maurice Gelbert, the father's barrister, said the boy had been crying between 2am and 3.45am on the 15th, and the tired man was unable to settle his son.
The man was normally guided by his then partner how to care for the child and did not trust himself to prepare feed for the baby.
Those factors led him to lose control, Mr Gelbert said.
"It was clear that firstly my client had not slept well for the previous 27 hours," he said.
"His lack of experience was palpable on this occasion."
Mr Gelbert said there was no evidence to suggest the man, who faces possible jail time, was nothing other than a "loving father" whose mistake had cost him everything.
"My client now has to live with the consequences of his conduct for the rest of his life," he said.
"He has no contact with his family. He's lost his partner, he's lost his child."
The parents will return to court for sentencing on September 8.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Tragic results of father's 'loss of control'