SUMMERSIDE — Was it a case of a father taking out his frustrations on his defenseless child?
Or was it an honest mistake, compounded by ignorance?
The decision is now in the hands of Judge Jeff Lantz.
Lantz was presented on Tuesday with the facts of a case involving negligence causing bodily harm to a three-month-old infant. It’s a case that was first reported in August following an RCMP investigation.
The 21-year-old accused man pleaded guilty in December, but the specifics of the case were unknown until now.
According to those facts, the incident in question happened in late June of 2013. It wasn’t until several days later when a family member noticed something was off with the child that she was brought to Prince County Hospital.
Doctors found she had several fractured bones.
She was eventually transferred to the IWK Hospital in Halifax for treatment.
RCMP interviewed several family members in relation to the case, including the accused, who originally denied causing the injuries but eventually confessed to RCMP that he may have caused them inadvertently.
He told police that the day before the incident, he’d been informed suddenly that he was being laid off — compounding the family’s already precarious financial situation.
He said he’d been angry and distracted that night while he was changing his daughter’s diaper and that he may have been too rough with her. He later told police he suspected at the time he may have injured her, but decided that because she had not been bruised and wasn’t in obvious pain, he didn’t need to seek medical help.
The Crown and defence varied greatly on Tuesday in their interpretation of these events and ultimately in their recommendations for sentencing to Lantz.
The Crown, which stressed sending a strong message of deterrence to the public in its summary of the situation, is asking for 15 to 18 months in jail, followed by three years of probation.
Defence counsel Trish Cheverie dismissed the need for a harsh sentence. She pointed out her client has no history of violent behaviour or substance abuse issues and despite this one incident, was a good father.
She asked for two to 12 months in custody, followed by upwards of two years of probation.
“What we’re dealing with here are the actions of a young man ... who was under serious stress, was suffering from frustration, and who committed a single incident in a moment where he lost control and caused injury to his beloved daughter,” said Cheverie.
The child was briefly put into foster care while the RCMP conducted its investigation, but has since been returned to her mother.
Followup examinations by physicians revealed she has recovered from her injuries and should not suffer any permanent damage if monitored regularly.
The accused will be back in court on March 12 for sentencing.