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East Cambridgeshire parents sentenced after baby suffers fractured ribs, bruising and injured eye

A five-month old boy suffered fractured ribs, bruising on his face and an injured eye at the hands of one of his parents - while the other failed to protect him.

The baby was taken into care of the local authority and the parents, from East Cambridgeshire, were arrested after a health professional raised concerns during a routine appointment.

Cambridge Crown Court
Cambridge Crown Court

Cambridgeshire police found messages on the mother’s mobile phone describing her frustrations at a lack of sleep and the amount the child was crying.

In two messages, she threatened physical violence - warning in one that she would “smash his head against the side of the cot” if things did not improve.

The parents, who are in their 20s but cannot be named for legal reasons, were sentenced today at Cambridge Crown Court after pleading guilty to assaulting or ill-treating a child to cause unnecessary suffering or injury.

The mother received 18 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to complete 25 days of rehabilitation activity. The father was handed a 12-month community order and ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation activity.

The child remains in the care of extended family by court order.

Detective Sergeant Tom Rogers said: “Sleep deprivation and increased stress are common factors when parenting, but to let those frustrations turn into physical abuse is unforgivable.

“I’d like to commend the actions of the healthcare professionals and also urge anyone who is concerned for the welfare of a child to report it. We all have a responsibility to protect children in our communities.

“Thankfully this child is now in a safe environment, but things could easily have continued to spiral and been much worse if nobody had intervened.”

The alarm was raised when the parents attended a routine appointment to check the baby’s weight and general health in November 2018.

When a health professional expressed concerns about bruising to the child’s face and a bloodshot eye, the parents claimed he had scratched his eye and hurt himself as a result of moving around in his cot.

But the health worker insisted they attend Addenbrooke’s Hospital so additional assessments could be made and the parents agreed.

A referral was also made to child social care.

Hospital assessment confirmed the boy had facial bruising, a haemorrhage to the eye and a number of fractured ribs. The child was taken into the care of the local authority and the parents arrested.

In police interviews, they continued to deny any wrongdoing, claiming the injuries were self-inflicted or caused by other implausible means, but officers then examined their phones.

Medical experts concluded the injuries were not self-inflicted and there was no evidence of bone weakness. The fractures would have required significant force to occur, they found.

Both parents were charged, and later admitted, the offences.

Anyone who is concerned for the welfare of a child should call 101 or visit cambs.police.uk.

For information on child protection visit cambs.police.uk/childprotection.

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