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Woman avoids jail after son suffers head injury

A Belfast woman convicted of cruelty to her baby son when he sustained a head injury has avoided prison.

The 27-year-old defendant was given 12 months probation for her part in a domestic incident which led to the infant striking a door frame.

She is not being named to protect the boy's identity.

Proceedings centred on an alleged row between the woman and an ex-partner at a house in north Belfast in May last year.

Her lawyers claimed that at one point the man had lifted the child, who was only a few months old at the time.

As the woman tried to take her son back his head struck against a door frame, according to the defence. He sustained bruising but no long-term injuries.

The mother was prosecuted for child cruelty over actions said to have caused unnecessary suffering.

She contested the charge by alleging that she was being assaulted at the time.

A judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court accepted the woman never intended to injure her son.

But he convicted her on the basis of wilful neglect by acting recklessly.

At a sentencing hearing yesterday, the woman appeared remotely from the offices of her solicitor Hamill Clawson.

Defence barrister Mark Farrell said: "It's a very tragic case."

He said his client has already "paid a heavy price" through the child being removed from her care.

"The bigger battle will be for her and her son to be reunited in a proper mother-son relationship going forward," Mr Farrell submitted.

District Judge George Conner was told the woman still has contact with the little boy three times a week.

Under sentencing guidelines a custodial term could have been imposed for the offence.

But with no intent involved in the ill-treatment, Mr Conner instead imposed a 12-month probation order.

He directed that the defendant must participate in any alcohol or drug treatment programme required.

However, the judge warned her: "If you break these terms you will be brought back before court and re-sentenced for these matters."

Belfast Telegraph