Monday, 2 Oct 2023

Baby violently shaken by father left permanently brain-damaged

A father who violently shook his eight-week-old baby to stop him crying, causing his son catastrophic and permanent brain damage, has been sentenced to more than a 10 years in prison. Nicholas Bateman, 31, was convicted at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court, south Wales, on Wednesday. The court heard the child, who had been “thriving” prior to the assault on March 9, 2018, now suffers from cerebral palsy and is unable to speak, eat or stand, and can’t sleep without medication. 

The court was told Bateman had gripped his crying eight-week-old child by the face and chest before violently shaking him. He proceeded to throw the infant onto a soft surface. 

Presiding Judge Lucy Crowther said the consequences of what the defendant did were devastating and had caused irreversible brain damage and life-changing injuries.

Delivering her verdict, she added no length of sentence could remedy the damage caused by Bateman both to the young child and his family. 

The 31-year-old had been left with his son for just an hour on the day of the incident while his wife attended a doctor’s appointment nearby. 

When she returned to their Aberdare home on March 9, 2018, she found her son taking “short, sharp, gulping” breaths and turning blue. The mum immediately called 999 and began CPR on the infant as instructed by the call handler. 

The baby was described as being “floppy” and appearing in a “hypnotic state” and was in considerable pain when he moved.

A rapid response paramedic was on the scene within 10 minutes and administered lifesaving oxygen before rushing him to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr.

Scans showed significant swelling on the infant’s brain and the following day, the child began suffering from seizures and was rushed to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. 

Further scans and tests showed the extent of the brain damage he had suffered, as well as revealing fractures to two ribs and to his right ankle and knee. Extensive bruising to his body and face also became apparent.

At the time, Bateman said the boy had bumped his head on the bony part of his shoulder as he picked him up.

He continued to deny his involvement during a police investigation, only revealing the extent of his assault to a psychiatrist and the author of the pre-sentence report. 

His silence, the judge added, caused considerable harm to the baby’s mother while Bateman refused to tell the truth. 

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Tom Roberts, prosecuting, said Bateman, who was arrested on March 22, 2018, sought to variously blame his partner, family members, and medical staff for the damage to his son. 

The court heard the boy is now aged five and has cerebral palsy. He also cannot speak, cannot eat solid food, cannot stand, needs a specially-adapted wheelchair, cannot sleep without medication, and has no pain threshold. He will need additional care and support for the foreseeable future.

In an impact statement read to the court by the boy’s mother, she said it makes her sad to think about the life her son could have lived had it not been for her ex-partner’s assault, adding that it makes her sad to see other young children playing. 

She told the court that hearing her former partner pleading guilty five years after the incident made what he had done much worse. 

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