A young father who fatally shook his seven-week-old son put him in a rocker and did this shocking act after.
A young father who fatally shook his seven-week-old son put him in a rocker and did this shocking act after.

Gaming-obsessed dad shakes son to death

A Victorian man played games on his PlayStation and fell asleep moments after he fatally shook his seven-week-old son.

Benalla man Joseph McDonald pleaded guilty to one count of child homicide in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday.

The 23-year-old admitted shaking and knocking the head of baby Lucas on the ground on October 24 last year. The infant died at the Monash Children's Hospital four days later.

But McDonald didn't get help and instead put the baby in his rocker and started to play video games on PlayStation until the sawmill worker fell asleep.

Baby Lucas was seven weeks old when he was killed by his father, Benalla man Joseph McDonald in 2019. Photo: Supplied
Baby Lucas was seven weeks old when he was killed by his father, Benalla man Joseph McDonald in 2019. Photo: Supplied

When the child's mum Samantha Duckmanton heard her baby's piercing cry she checked on him, but McDonald said the cry happened because he was "swaddling him".

Following the assault baby Lucas appeared dazed, his eyes weren't focused and his arms and legs were making strange movements and he wasn't feeding, the court was told.

"Lucas deserved to feel safe and protected by his daddy, you let him down," Ms Duckmanton said in a statement.

The baby's killer didn't deserve the title of "daddy" because of what he did to their family, the mum said.

"You do not deserve forgiveness nor do you deserve to have the title of daddy," she said.

The baby was rushed to the emergency room of the local hospital after his condition deteriorated on October 25 before he was taken to the Monash Children's Hospital in Melbourne's suburbs.

Benalla man Joseph McDonald admitted fatally shaking his seven-week-old child.
Benalla man Joseph McDonald admitted fatally shaking his seven-week-old child.

McDonald lied to a doctor at the intensive care unit about what happened and instead claimed the baby appeared "pale, breathing very quietly" after a routine medical check-up.

"He was putting his own self-interest ahead of the welfare of his child … at least tell the medical staff in case something could be done," Justice Stephen Kaye said of the father.

Lucas died on October 29 in hospital because of "catastrophic" head injuries, the court was told.

When hospital staff told the family the baby died because of "non-accidental" injuries, McDonald said nothing.

Lucas's heartbroken mum questioned McDonald about it later, but he lied to her and then fled the hospital.

He hid in a horse shed and when he was discovered told the owner he'd been beaten and robbed.

McDonald managed to get to the suburb of Wallan and spent hours in front of an op shop before calling his mother and handing himself in to police on November 2.

Benalla Man Joseph McDonald played video games after fatally shaking bis son.
Benalla Man Joseph McDonald played video games after fatally shaking bis son.

His defence lawyer Colin Mandy SC said the man was "profoundly sad".

"He feels like he should be punished appropriately for what he's done and wants that, whatever that might be," Mr Mandy said.

McDonald had anger management issues, no prior criminal history, was addicted to violent video games, entered an early plea of guilty and was remorseful, the lawyer explained.

"He had an extraordinary addiction to PlayStation," Justice Kaye noted.

The judge will sentence McDonald at a later date.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. 

Originally published as Gaming-obsessed dad shakes son to death


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