Father of five jailed for assault on toddler

Father Of Five Jailed For Assault On Toddler
Medical staff at Tallaght Hospital called gardaí after they discovered extensive bruising to the toddler's face, ears, back, buttocks, thighs and genital area.
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Claire Henry

A father of five who assaulted his partner's toddler, leading to the child being hospitalised for two days, has been jailed for four years.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the child’s identity, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of child cruelty following a trial in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court earlier this year. The man was in a relationship with the child’s mother at the time.


Medical staff at Tallaght Hospital called gardaí after they discovered extensive bruising to the toddler's face, ears, back, buttocks, thighs and genital area when his mother brought him there in February 2017.

When the child's grandmother saw him in hospital, she thought the boy looked like a child from an ISPCC ad, the court previously heard. As a result of his injuries, the toddler spent two days in the hospital.

The court heard that on four occasions, the man was seen threatening the toddler with his fists in the child’s face. He has 43 previous convictions, including convictions for assault, theft, criminal damage, road traffic and public order offences.

The man still maintains his innocence, the court heard.


In 2020, the child's mother was given a three-year suspended sentence for allowing her child to be ill-treated by the man.

The mother, who was aged 21 at the time of the assault, didn't get her child medical attention when she should have and allowed him to remain in a dangerous environment, Judge Patricia Ryan said when handing down sentence in November 2020.

At the man's sentence hearing on Friday, a victim impact statement was handed into court from the maternal grandmother of the toddler, who now has full custody of him. It was not read aloud.

The court previously heard that in the days prior to the assault, both the mother and the man's family members expressed concern about bruising on the toddler, but the mother told them he was a “clumsy child who fell all the time”.


In a victim impact statement previously read out in court for the mother's sentence hearing, the boy's grandmother described being told by gardaí that her grandson had been hospitalised, before finding him covered in bruises in hospital. She had last seen him two weeks prior to this, the court heard.

She recalled walking into the hospital and seeing her grandson smile at her. He was covered in bruises and looked like a child from an ISPCC ad, she said. “I was so shocked,” she said. “I tried not to cry and be strong for him.”

He has suffered speech regressions and struggled with playschool. His grandmother said he used to love playing with other children, but this changed in the aftermath of the abuse and his primary school education was delayed as a result.

Sentencing the man on Friday, Judge Pauline Codd said the most serious aggravating factors in the case were the youth and vulnerability of the child, who was two and a half years old at the time. She noted the man had a criminal record, the most notable of which was an assault conviction.


The judge referred to the victim impact statement which said the child was “rigid with fear when discharged from the hospital”.

The offence was in the upper mid-range with a headline sentence of five years, the judge said.

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She noted a number of mitigating factors, including the man's history of drug abuse, the death of a close friend, his good relationship with his children and the positive letter from his headmaster in prison.

Judge Codd said the appropriate sentence was four years on each of the two counts, which are to run concurrently. Credit will be given for time already served.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Women’s Aid (24-hour freephone helpline at 1800 341 900, email helpline@womensaid.ie) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01 554 3811, email hello@mensaid.ie) for support and information. 

Safe Ireland also outlines a number of local services and helplines at safeireland.ie/get-help/where-to-find-help/. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112. 

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