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Man jailed for breaking baby's arm

A paramedic who broke his baby son's arm in an "unforgivably brutal and shocking" attack - but was cleared of his murder - has been jailed for three years.

Gavin Gibbs whispered "please forgive me" as three-month-old Charlie's life support machine was turned off in hospital in October 2008, but he told an Old Bailey jury that he was saying sorry to his infant son because he had not been able to save him from dying.

The court heard that 17 days before Charlie died in hospital from brain damage, Gibbs deliberately twisted and broke his arm. It caused an injury worse than any that the pathologist who later examined him had ever seen in a child so young.

Sentencing 41-year-old Gibbs for the attack, Judge Timothy Pontius told him: "I put aside the remaining charges of which in their merciful verdicts the jury has acquitted you." But he added: "Such an appalling act of violence by a powerfully-built man upon a helpless baby merely weeks old must be punished by an immediate prison sentence."

Following Charlie's death on October 23, it was found that Charlie had undergone a catalogue of previous injuries. They included a fractured skull, a fractured arm and a fractured rib from when he was two months old, and two more recent fractures - the result of pulling or twisting - to his left leg. He had also suffered a fractured ankle shortly before his death. His twin sister had broken four ribs.

Jurors accepted Gibbs's claims that he had not hurt either child - except on the occasion on October 6 when he broke Charlie's left arm.

In relation to the the baby's death, Gibbs told the court that two days before, Charlie had collapsed at home and he tried to resuscitate him. Gibbs said Charlie had been jerking his head and arching his back leading up to the collapse, but denied assaulting him.

Charlie had fallen off a sofa on an earlier occasion when Gibbs had gone to look for a camera to take a picture of him, he said.

Defence medical experts said there may have been an underlying medical condition for Charlie's brain injury.

Gibbs, of Brook Vale, Erith, Kent, was close to tears as he was cleared of murder but found guilty of unlawfully causing grievous bodily harm to Charlie. He was found not guilty of attacking the baby's twin sister.

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