10 years jail for 'violent, appalling' assault of baby girl

A DRUG addict who took out his frustrations on his de facto partner's baby daughter has been jailed for 10 years.

Timothy Joel Sanders, 29, had taken up with the woman when she was seven months pregnant.

However, soon after the girl's birth he had felt conflicted about having another man's baby in his care, Toowoomba District Court heard.

Your actions were violent and appalling over a two-month period

The girl was just three or four weeks old when her mother noticed blood around her mouth and took her to Roma Hospital on May 21, last year, where she was found to have a cut under her tongue and bruises on her right forearm.

Sanders later told police he had put his hand over the child's mouth to stop her crying and that his thumb had gone into her mouth.

He admitted twisting her arm.

Crown prosecutor Noel Needham said, rather than that incident being a wake-up call, Sanders' abuse of the child continued and escalated to the point the child was rushed back to hospital a month later with breathing difficulties.

Medical staff immediately started resuscitation and her heart-rate and breathing were slow.

Due to seizures she was given anti-convulsion medication and scans found she had bleeding to both sides of the brain, two fractures to her lower right leg and five broken ribs.

Mr Needham said the head injuries were consistent with "baby shaking" and the bone injuries consistent with twisting and squeezing.

Initially telling police the injuries were accidental, Sanders eventually admitted to shaking the baby a number of times, squeezing her ribs with his hand and twisting her arms and legs.

"He told police when he got the sh**s with her, he'd snap", Mr Needham said.

Sanders, who had spent 297 days in pre-sentence custody, pleaded guilty by video-link to the prison to charges of torture and grievous bodily harm.

He sat at a table with his head bowed through most of the two-hour sentence hearing.

It was a shocking abuse of trust and power


Judge Greg Koppenol was scathing of Sanders' assaults on the girl.

"(She) was a helpless, defenceless little baby, only weeks old, and you deliberately inflicted severe pain and appalling injury on that little girl," he said.

"Your actions were violent and appalling over a two-month period.

"It was a shocking abuse of trust and power."

Judge Koppenol noted by medical reports tended to the court that it was too early to tell how affected the girl, who turned one last month, would be but it was suspected she may be left with cerebral palsy.

Judge Koppenol sentenced Sanders to 10 years jail but declared the 297 days pre-sentence custody as time served under the sentence.

He declared the assaults as "serious violent offences" meaning Sanders will serve at least 80% of the term behind bars.

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