Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Tougher sentence for baby assault

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A man who was sentenced to home detention for breaking his baby daughter's legs will now have to serve more than two years in jail, after a court overturned the sentence.

James Robert Hall, 21, was sentenced to 12 months' home detention after pleading guilty to two charges of causing grievous bodily harm.

His daughter was admitted to Hawkes Bay Hospital in March last year.

Last month the Solicitor-General appealed the sentence to the Court of Appeal, saying it was manifestly inadequate.

Representing the Solicitor-General, Annabel Marham, told the court the judge failed to put earlier abuse cases that were drawn on in deciding the sentence into the context of recent trends.

There was a "hardening or sterner" approach to cases of this matter, which was not taken into account, she said.

It was not a single case of anger.The infant was subjected to prolonged suffering, and medical help was not sought.

In the first four months of her life, the little girl had a possible fracture to her arm, three fractures on her right thigh, two fractures on her left leg and leg and pelvic bruising.

Hall admitted to police he had injured his daughter, and on one occasion had bent her leg back in "blind anger". He said other injuries could have been caused through him being rough or careless with her.

He attributed his behaviour to "unresolved anger and his difficulty in bonding with his daughter", the Court of Appeal ruling, released yesterday, said.

It said the little girl "must have spent the first few weeks of her life in significant pain".

Defence counsel Scott Jefferson argued there was not a huge difference between what the Solicitor-General was asking for and the sentence.

"What we're arguing about is whether this man should go to prison or not.

"Given that we're not far apart, I urge the court not to interfere with it," he said.

But Justices Douglas White, Graham Lang and Christopher Allan said the sentencing judge, Justice Mary Peters, had "erred" in adopting a starting point of two years and nine months' imprisonment.

The justices replaced home detention with a prison term of two years and five months.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 25 Apr 2014 02:53:54 Processing Time: 394ms