A man who assaulted his baby daughter on two separate occasions in the family home in west Belfast was sent to jail today for offences branded as "appalling" by a Crown Court judge.
The little girl sustained two injuries in 2013 at the hands of her father - a bite mark to her face aged nine months, and a fracture to her upper arm when she was 13 months old.
The 30-year old man said he couldn't cope with parenting, and claimed that the more his daughter cried, the more stressed he became.
Handing the child's father a 12-month prison sentence, which will be followed by two years on licence upon his release, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said: "Such appalling offences against a helpless and vulnerable baby cannot be treated lightly."
Belfast Crown Court heard that the child's father has Asperger's Syndrome, which Judge Kerr accepted may have impacted on how he dealt with stress. However, the Judge said that whilst his condition may be relevant to explain some of his behaviour, the offences were serious and as such attracted a custodial sentence.
Also appearing in court was the child's mother, who was made the subject of a two-year probation order after she admitted a single charge of child cruelty. Judge Kerr said that she failed, as a mother, to protect her child from the risk of harm posed by her partner, given she was aware of the first incident where her daughter's face was injured.
Neither the child's mother nor her father can be named in order to protect the identity of the little girl, who the court heard is now living with a family member and is "thriving."
In the first incident, which occurred in July 2013, relatives of the baby's mother noticed a large bite mark on the child's cheek. The injury bore teeth marks, and whilst the mother said she didn't know what happened, the father claimed he had sucked or bitten his daughter's cheek whilst playing.
He later admitted sucking his daughter's face to try and make her stop crying.
Not long after the couple broke up. The father was still allowed to see the youngster, and on October 3 of the same year, the now 19-month old was rushed to hospital where she was treated for a spiral fracture to her upper left arm.
The injury was deemed 'non-accidental'. Following this injury, he was arrested and during interviews he said he went into the child's bedroom and noticed she was lying on her right hand side with her left arm twisted back and trapped underneath.
He said he then "got her arm and twisted it around" and as he was lifted her up her heard a clicking noise, then noticed her arm "seemed kind of loose" and he thought it may be dislocated.
During today's sentencing it emerged that whilst the father has had no contact with his daughter since and is unlikely to do so, her mother has limited access.
Making the 28-year old west Belfast woman the subject of a two-year probation order, Judge Kerr said part of the conditions should include programmes to "train and support her as a mother."
Her co-accused, who lives in the Ards Peninsula, was sent to jail for 12 months for two offences, namely being cruel to a child and causing her grievous bodily harm.