Child abuser spared prison, gets to keep son

A FATHER who shook his infant so hard he fractured its skull will tuck that same child into bed tonight after he walked free from court.

The charges date back to 2012 when the boy's parents - who can't be named to protect the child's identity - first took him home after he'd been hospitalised following a premature birth.

Just one month later, paramedics were called to the couple's Yandina address by the boy's mother as he was "listless", gasping for air and suffering periods of apnoea of between five and 10 seconds.

Once hospitalised, the mother told doctors her son had choked on vomit at home and become "floppy and purple".

Tests showed the child was suffering a fractured skull, ribs, collarbone, arm and femur as well as stretching and tearing of nerve cells in the brain and facial bruising.

It was determined the injuries were "non-accidental" and that weeks prior to the boy's hospitalisation the father had squeezed him - causing some of the fractures - and 24 hours prior shaken him.

The mother had regularly taken their son to the doctor, with all reports indicating the child was healthy bar some bruising to his arm.

Episodes of crying were put down to reflux and constipation which were treated by the GP.

Throughout three police interviews the parents, who have since had two other children, denied any wrongdoing.

The child was released from hospital in June 2012 into the care of his maternal grandmother, but just 18 months later he was back with his parents as the Department of Child Safety had no further concerns.

Police charged the pair in relation to the injuries in April 2014, but the child still remained in their care.

Today in Maroochydore District Court the father pleaded guilty to single counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and grievous bodily harm - while the mother pleaded guilty to cruelty to a child under 16.

The basis of her charge was that she failed to notify the infant's doctor of the injuries and failed to prevent further "non-accidental" harm even upon seeing the bruises.

Despite the extent of the injuries, the boy has suffered no lasting physical damage.

A forensic psychologist reported the father's "dysfunctional upbringing" caused him to struggle with parenthood, but he was now at a "low or very low" risk of re-offending.

Character references also described the mother as "loving", "devoted" and an "everyday young woman".

Judge John Robertson said while he was faced with a "difficult decision", sentencing the parents to prison would have an impact on their victim and other children.

The mother was given a 12-month good behaviour bond.

The father - who was seen laughing and smiling while walking from the courthouse - was sentenced to three years probation for the assault and a four-year suspended prison sentence for the grievous bodily harm.

Outside the court house officer-in-charge of the Sunshine Coast Child Protection and Investigation Unit, Detective Senior Sergeant Phil Hurst, said the two-year investigation was "incredibly difficult" as the child was unable to talk to police.

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