Prince County Court House
SUMMERSIDE – A Prince County man who pleaded guilty to negligence causing bodily harm to his three-month-old daughter was sentenced Wednesday.
The 21-year-old, who cannot be named without identifying his daughter, was ordered to serve 12 months in jail, followed by two years of probation.
He had been charged in August 2013 after a lengthy RCMP investigation and pleaded guilty in December.
The maximum sentence for negligence causing bodily harm is 14 years in jail.
The accused’s defence council had asked for a sentence in the range of two to 12 months while the Crown had asked for 15 to 18 months.
In handing down his sentence Judge Jeff Lantz said that while the facts before him pointed to the man being a good case for rehabilitation, he had to balance that with sending a message of condemnation to the public.
“His prospects for rehabilitation are very good, I believe. But I do have to balance rehabilitation with denunciation and deterrence … which are paramount in situations such as this,” said Lantz.
“The accused appears to be a good person, but unfortunately sometimes good people make mistakes – and they need to answer for them,” he added.
This incident happened in late June of 2013.
The man was alone looking after his baby daughter one night, when he handled her in a rough manner while changing her diaper.
The court heard that at the time he’d suspected he may have injured her, but because she showed no obvious signs of discomfort or bruising he didn’t seek medical help.
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 in Summerside.
Doctors found that she had a broken femur and collarbone and various other fractures.
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.
He 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 also had much of the responsibility of looking after the baby and was suffering from lack of sleep.
He said he'd been angry and distracted and that he may have been too rough with her.
The child has since made a full recovery and is back with her mother.
Lantz noted that it’s fortunate that she will remember nothing of her injuries – but added that the accused will ultimately have to answer to her when she’s older.
“Someday the accused will have to try and explain what happened to her, what he did and why. That’ll be very hard on both of them, I’m sure.”