Woman jailed for baby attack - Berkhamsted

24/05/2013

A hungover mum, who snapped and lashed out at her friend's crying baby who she was looking after, was jailed today, Friday, 24 May 2013, for nine years.

Theresa Smith smashed the 14-month-old baby boy in the eye so hard she fractured the toddler's eye socket in three places.

The child's mother came home after "popping" out of her home for just 20 minutes to find her son bleeding from his nose and his eye puffing up.

Smith claimed to have no idea what had happened to the little boy, but after he was rushed by ambulance to hospital, doctors discovered the appalling injuries.

Today at St Albans Crown Court Smith, 36, a mother of two, was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to the child at his home in Berkhamsted, Herts on 08 December 2011.

The child is under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London.

Seventeen months after the attack he is still suffering a watery left eye because of damage that was caused to a tear duct.

During the trial the jury heard Smith had been to a Christmas party the night before. The following morning the child's mum, who was a friend of Smith's, asked her to call round because she was feeling down.

Smith told the court she offered to give the mum a break and look after her son while she went out for 20 minutes. She said the baby began crying uncontrollably.

Passing sentence Judge John Plumstead said: "I think she (Smith) had too much to drink the previous night and was fragile."

He said he was also sure she was stressed out at the time over a relationship with her boyfriend.

The judge said: "The child's crying was more than she could cope with and she lost self control because she was hung over and fed up and this was the result of a direct blow with maximum force. She has literally hit that baby as hard as she could. It was unforgivable behaviour."

During the trial medical evidence was presented to the jury that the injuries to the baby were non accidental.

Smith of Cobb Road, Berkhamsted said she had looked after the child before and told the court: "I adored him, he was gorgeous, beautiful."

She said when the mother left, the baby was "distraught" and added "As soon as she left the room he went to pieces."

Smith claimed she spent the next 10 minutes trying to comfort the child by rocking him and walking with him in her arms. She said she decided to give the baby his bottle and left him sitting on the floor by a cushion and beside his toys. Smith said she went into the kitchen and put some powder into his bottle, but before she could add the water noticed the tone of his crying had become a high pitched shriek. Returning to the child, she said she then noticed he had a small nose bleed and his eye looked "puffy."

She went on: "I picked him up and put him on my lap and popped his head back and cleaned him up with baby wipes, but it started getting much worse."

The boy's mum then came home and they called an ambulance. The child was taken to West Herts Hosital where it was found to have suffered the injury to his right eye, which had left the eye socket fractured in three places. His eye was swollen and bruised and there was an abrasion at the top of his nose.

The child's bloodstained babygro was later found in Smith's handbag.

Before sentence was passed, the court was told Smith had suffered a nervous breakdown last year and she had attempted to take her own life.

Jailing her for nine years, Judge Plumstead told Smith: "This was in my judgement an act of extreme violence against a helpless and vulnerable child."

The judge said the pictures shown in court of the child's facial injuries after the attack were "shocking."

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