Published Wednesday, 10 October 2012
An expert said the child's injuries were akin to those received in a car crash. (© UTV)
The 25-year-old west Belfast man stood impassively in the dock of Belfast Crown Court as the jury foreman announced the majority guilty verdict of ten to two.
The jury of seven men and five women had deliberated for almost three and a half hours over two days before coming to the majority verdict, just minutes after being told by His Honour Judge Kinney that he could now accept such a verdict.
Thanking the jury for their attention, Judge Kinney remanded the defendant into custody and adjourned passing sentence until pre-sentence probation and psychiatric reports have been compiled on him.
During the trial, the jury heard how the seven month old baby girl suffered extensive bruising to her face and head as well as a fracture to the right side of her skull when her father was looking after her for around 20 minutes on the morning of 3 November, 2010.
The jury heard how the man, who cannot be identified to protect his daughter, had been out drinking with friends all night but had come home.
Giving evidence to the court the baby's mother said her daughter was "perfectly fine" when she left the house and her partner was taking the child upstairs for a nap.
However, when she returned 20 minutes later, the baby had two black eyes, a bloody nose and extensive bruising over her face with the jury hearing that a CT scan showed a fracture to the right side of her skull.
She told the jury how she had a "freak attack" and was hysterical when she saw her daughter's face.
"When I lifted her up I was asking him 'what the f*** have you done, oh my God what did you do to her'," she told the court.
She added that her former partner told her to "stop freaking out, stop freaking out".
On arrival at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, she described how usually, patients have to give their name but that this time, "I just barged my way in and told the doctors to get the police".
Arrested and interviewed, the 25-year-old said the only possible explanation he had was that as he was carrying his daughter upstairs to bed, her head accidentally hit the wall and that as he was putting her down on the bed, the bottle he was carrying by the teat between his teeth, dropped and hit his daughter in the face.
That explanation however was lambasted as "implausible" by consultant paediatrician Dr Patricia Kenny.
The medical expert described to the jury how the varying nature and widespread bruising suffered by the baby girl must have come from a multiplicity of blows, as if "you have been banging about in a road traffic accident".
Dr Kenny told the jury it was "very unusual" to see fractures of the frontal bone in babies as they are "pretty tough".
"Unless there's been a forceful impact, way more than just a fall off a changing table," said the doctor, "we are talking about a fall from a first floor window or in a road traffic accident.
"Skull fractures don't occur accidentally unless there's been a significant forceful impact such as a road traffic accident or fall from a first floor window."
She told the jury that bottles of milk, even when full are not that heavy, are only made of plastic and would not cause anything more than a one centimetre bruise.
Likewise, the paediatric expert said if her head had hit the wall accidentally, there might be a mark or bruise to the top of her head but not the extensive bruising all over the little girl's face.