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Hong Kong courts

Two years’ jail for Hong Kong father who violently shook and hugged three-month-old baby

The child suffered retinal haemorrhage, brain bleeding and swelling, as well as bruises and bone fractures

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 7:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 11:52pm

A Hong Kong man who violently shook his three-month-old daughter and hugged her so tightly that she broke four ribs and suffered internal bleeding was jailed for two years on Monday.

The District Court heard the man, 40, was a first-time father under a lot of stress to support his family, working long hours as a cook while caring for his child.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity, told police during his arrest that he shook the infant on January 19 last year. He said she had cried incessantly after he accidentally bumped her buttocks against an edge while feeding her.

Shocking video shows Hong Kong man flinging infant daughter like rag doll, before punching, kicking and elbowing her

He also admitted that three months earlier he had hugged her tightly to keep her warm.

The abuse left her with a condition known as “shaken baby syndrome” – resulting in retinal haemorrhage, brain bleeding and swelling – on top of bruises and fractures in four ribs and her hand.

But she only received medical attention in late January, after a new babysitter discovered a bruise near the little girl’s groin and alerted social workers and police. The baby is now in a stable condition.

Her father pleaded guilty last month to one count of ill treatment of a child, an offence punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment.

In a letter to the court, he expressed remorse and promised to do his best to be a competent father.

Sentencing reports said he was apathetic and careless towards his daughter, but that he had a low chance of reoffending as the baby’s mother had since separated from him and shouldered parenting responsibilities.

A clinical psychologist found the man to be impulsive and irritable, with low problem-solving abilities and a complete lack of experience in childcare.

Judge Sham Siu-man said he understood that the father may lack parental skills or become emotional at times, but these were not excuses for mistreating a particularly vulnerable three-month-old child.

Given the court’s primary aim was to protect young children, Sham said, the girl’s serious injuries warranted a custodial sentence.

“This is a case of child cruelty,” he said. “The court views this matter very seriously.”