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Co Armagh man punched baby girl so he could watch X Factor TV show in peace

 

By John Cassidy

A Co Armagh man who punched a baby girl to the head after claiming she "wouldn't stop crying'' while he was watching the X Factor is set to be jailed next month.

Belfast Crown Court heard that as a result of the unprovoked attack by Darren Eamonn Fagan, the impact on the young child and her parents had been "life changing'' and her future prognosis is yet to be fully determined by doctors.

Fagan, formerly of Clonavon Avenue, Portadown, told a probation officer that he attacked the child because he wanted peace to "watch the X Factor''.

The incident took place at the toddler's home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh on Sunday, October 19, 2014.

The 29-year-old had been due to stand trial charged with attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

However, Fagan was recently re-arrainged and pleaded guilty to the charge of grievous bodily harm with intent. His guilty plea was accepted by the prosecution who asked that the attempted murder charge be "left on the books in the usual terms''.

The court heard that at the time of the attack the girl was aged just two years and four months.

Prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC said that the mother was separated from the girl's father and at time was with Fagan "who she had met in person eight to ten times''.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said that the young girl had spent part of the weekend with her grandparents and also her father who had all reported her to have been in good health.

That same weekend, Fagan had stayed at the woman's house overnight and on the Sunday "started drinking cider from 1.30 pm''.

The mother told police that the girl's father had dropped her home on Sunday evening and she was "in good form'' but had then become unsettled when she was put to bed, describing her face as "red and sweating" when she went to check on her.

After going to the kitchen to look for child medicine, she said she noticed that Fagan was no longer in the living room and it was as she went upstairs that her daughter "stopped crying" and she heard a "sudden noise...like a thud."

"She says she saw the defendant standing up, crouched over her daughter's bed. She noticed a large lump on the left side of her head. She shouted at him 'oh my God you've hit her' and the defendant replied 'no, it's not what it looks like'. She ran with her daughter down the stairs towards the front door but the defendant would not let her out saying, 'I can explain'."

Mr Murphy said the mother managed to get out the front door and ran up the street to a house where people she knew lived.

"The child was violently vomiting at this stage,'' the senior prosecutor told the judge. "She told people at the house to ring for an ambulance. Police arrived on the scene and the child was put on a stretcher.'' The "lifeless' child was brought into the house where a police officer performed mouth to mouth resuscitation on her before she was transferred by ambulance to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

The court heard Fagan told a probation officer that he "punched the child to her head as she would not stop crying'', claiming he wanted peace to sit with the child's mother and watch X Factor on television.

Judge Miller was told that Fagan had an "extensive criminal record'' including convictions for violence.

Defence counsel Ciaran Mallon QC told the court that there was "no premeditation'' on Fagan's behalf, describing it as "explosive incident'' during which the defendant had lost self control.

"He had no hatred for the child whatsoever. In fact, in the days before his incident he took the mother and child to McDonald's and they had played in the park.'' Mr Mallon said Fagan had expressed his remorse for the attack on the child and had also expressed this remorse in a letter.

Remanding Fagan back into custody, Judge Miller said he would pass sentence on Friday, June 9.

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