A FATHER who caused a brain injury to his three-month-old son with a single forceful shake has escaped being jailed after the judge heard the baby has made a full recovery.
Dmitrijs Laizans had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to inflicting grievous bodily harm on his son with intent to cause him serious injury.
And at a pre-trial hearing he pleaded guilty to a less serious offence of unlawfully causing grievous bodily harm – but without the intent to do so, which was accepted.
Laizans (27) of Monks Road, Coventry, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to take part in a programme dealing with child care issues.
Prosecutor Amy Jackson said that in February last year Laizans was looking after his 12-week-old son while his partner, who was the baby’s primary carer, went swimming.
A friend of his arrived at the house at about 6.30pm, and when he answered the door Laizans was trying to soothe the crying baby.
The baby became very distressed and limp, so an ambulance was called and arrived ten minutes later.
By then the baby was lying on the sofa, where Laizans had been told to place him, with his back arched and breathing rapidly and crying in pain.
The baby suddenly went quiet for five or six seconds, so went to hospital immediately. Then he had a fit at University Hospital.
He was found to have a bilateral subdural haematoma – bleeding between the skull and the brain, as well as some bleeding behind his eyes.
Police and social services were informed.
When he was questioned Laizans said the baby, who the court heard had no other injuries, had thrown its head back violently as he was holding him.
The baby was transferred to the intensive care unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where he had seizures, but after five days had recovered sufficiently to be transferred back to Coventry.
Miss Jackson said consultant neurosurgeon Peter Richards believes the baby’s injury was consistent with a single forceful shake.
Alan Walmsley, defending, said it had been a single shake during a momentary loss of control, but commented: “Mr Laizans is clearly a caring father and maintains a love for his child.”
He said the child, now 14 months old, and his mother were now back in Latvia, and Laizans sends 75 per cent of his earnings from a warehouse job over to support them.
Sentencing Laizans, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “You are clearly a caring, loving father; but you know very well that when you shook this baby, and it was a single shake which is very different from repeated shaking, while you did not intend him serious harm, you put him at risk of that.
“I don’t want the sentence I pass on you to make people think that if you injure children in your care you don’t go to prison; but in your case it’s clear to me that an immediate sentence of imprisonment is not the right outcome.
“I hope this means that family can be back together again, because this is not the sort of case where the child needs to be protected in the long-term from you.”