Taupo man jailed for injuring 3-month-old baby

A 19-year-old Taupo man convicted of causing a life-threatening head injury to his three-month old baby was today jailed for 16 months.

Taupo District Court was told that forestry worker Chevy Benjamin Leeward Cashell threw the child from chest height approximately one metre across his living room in August 2009. The child landed on a sofa.

Cashell, who had been frustrated at not being able to stop the baby from crying, then abandoned the baby where he lay and left the room to go to the toilet.

The baby's mother, who was not in the house at the time, returned shortly after the incident and found the child pale, floppy and gasping for breath.

At the time Cashell denied having anything to do with the injury and made no attempt to resuscitate the baby.

The child was unresponsive on arrival at Taupo Hospital and was transferred to Waikato Hospital by helicopter for urgent treatment.

At Waikato Hospital the baby was found to have a subdural brain bleed, consistent with having been shaken, or suffering a blow to the head.

Paediatric staff noted the child had two previous head injuries - a subdural bleed to the front of his head and a torn upper lip which hadn't healed.

Had it not been for the quick actions of the medical staff the child would have died, Judge James Weir said.

Cashell had shown limited insight into the seriousness of his offending and displayed a troubling lack of perception regarding the seriousness of his offence against an innocent and completely vulnerable victim, Judge Weir said.

New Zealand had an appalling record of child abuse and death and it was a disgrace that child victims were killed in their own homes, Judge Weir said.

Cashell and his ex-partner have two children together, both of whom are now in care.

Cashell pleaded guilty to reckless disrespect for the safety of a child in December.

- NZPA

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