Dad smothers his baby girl

Ipswich Magistrates Court
Ipswich Magistrates Court Rob Williams

A FATHER who smothered his two-month-old baby with a pillow until she turned blue has walked free from an Ipswich court. The 23-year-old man was sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to common assault.

Ipswich Magistrates Court heard the man, then 21, was looking after the little girl at home in Gatton while her mother had gone grocery shopping.

The grandmother of the child was in another room when she heard the baby scream and went to see what was wrong.

Crown prosecutor Nici Schmitt said the grandmother saw the father clasping the baby close to his chest, before he threw the baby onto the bed.

He then put a pillow over the body lengthwise and held his hands over the child's head and legs.

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, applied pressure to the child for about five seconds before he realised he was being watched, and stopped.

The grandmother said when she went to pick the baby up, she had turned blue and was gasping for air.

She immediately told the father to leave the house, and when the child's mother came home they went straight to Laidley police.

The baby was examined at hospital, but she was not left with any permanent injuries.

Police traced the man later that day - October 25, 2010 - and he was charged with attempted murder, later downgraded to a count of common assault.

"His actions were serious and could have led to the child's death," Ms Schmitt said. "Parents who physically abuse their babies must be punished to deter them and others behaving in this way.

"The victim was only two-months-old at the time of the offence and relied upon the accused to provide her the necessities of life."

Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said there was no chance the baby could defend herself or cry for help.

"It is obvious she was entirely and utterly in your care and there was no way, shape or form she could call out," Ms Sturgess said.

"As a parent you must comply with the duties as a protector of your child.

"It was a breach of trust - not only in what you did to your daughter but other members of the family."

The court was told the man had not had any contact with the child since the incident.

Defence lawyer Joanne O'Leary said the man had no criminal history, had started a new life with another woman and hoped to have children with her one day.

Ms O'Leary said the man planned to do a parenting course.

No conviction was recorded against the offender.

Hetty Johnston, founder of child protection charity Bravehearts, said the man would be a real danger around children if his behaviour was not addressed.

"We're too generous with adults and not careful enough around children," Mrs Johnston said.

"He obviously has an issue with controlling his anger and emotions, and unless he does some serious anger management courses he is just not safe to be around children."

Attorney-General Paul Lucas said decisions as to what charges were laid against any individual were made by the police and Department of Public Prosecutions.

He added: "Recent cases such as the Gabe Watson case demonstrate that sometimes prosecuting authorities will ensure that they select the charge with the best possible prospects of success, rather than risk an acquittal."

Topics:  ipswich court, smothered



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