The family of a five-day-old sleeping baby punched in the face by a 64-year-old while out shopping in Tesco with his wife are furious today after he was only fined for the assault.
David Hardy admitted striking Elsie Temple in the supermarket's biscuit aisle in Baguley, Manchester but then claimed he thought the little girl was a doll.
Company boss Hardy, a father of one, hit Elsie when she was being pushed in a carry cot by her mother Amy Duckers, 27, who had taken her out for the first time since her birth.
The baby immediately cried out in pain - and was left with an injury the size of an egg on her head as her older sister Libby, seven, screamed hysterically to her mother: "Is she going to die?"
In an extraordinary plea to be cleared of assault Hardy, of Greater Manchester, said today:
"It looked like a doll to me. I made a dreadful mistake. It is ridiculous but it is what happened'.
But district judge Sam Goozee rejected his defence as 'implausible' and fined him £900 (NZ$1600), ordered him to pay £100 compensation to his victim and £500 costs.
The baby's family yelled "f*****g joke" as he was sentenced and confronted Hardy outside court yelling: "That sentence is disgusting. You punched a baby in the face. How do you sleep at night?"
Furious Ms Duckers said the sentence was "absolutely disgusting".
She added: "Basically, it means you can punch a five-day-old baby and all you will get is a £900 fine. It's sickening. The judge was satisfied he knew he was hitting a baby but then fines him. I'm literally gobsmacked.
"Hardy knew full well she was a baby. He admitted he'd come over to see a baby."
Elsie's grandfather John Duckers said that a fine instead of a jail term was "unbelievable for punching five day old baby."
He added: "He may as well have let him off with nothing. Accident or not that baby has been assaulted. It's disgusting I can't believe it. That's just one month's pay for him. Should have been a custodial sentence for him."
The judge who found him guilty admitted his doll defence was 'implausible', but rejected the chance to jail him for up to six months.
He said: "I find your explanation implausible. It was clear it was a baby and not a doll.
"It was strange and concerning behaviour and impossible to explain. Elsie was a vulnerable five day old baby. I accept that this was a exceptional case. I also accept that it was spontaneous, it lacked any pre meditation and I do believe it was completely out of character. The impact it had on Elsie's mother was clear."
Hardy had maintained that he though the child was a toy when he struck in Tesco.
The father of one Hardy, was with his wife Elaine who was beckoned over by a friend who said: "Come here and look at the beautiful baby".
Moments later Hardy punched five-day-old baby Elsie, who spent the next seven hours in hospital and suffered a mark on her head the size of an egg, the court heard.
He was arrested after the incident at the Tesco supermarket in Baguley on September 5 at around 6pm.
Elsie's mother Amy Duckers told magistrates today there was a loud 'slap' noise when 'he came rushing up and punched her in the face".
She added: "I said 'you have hit my baby' and he said 'no I didn't'." before heading off down the biscuit aisle.
District judge Sam Goozee was told that Hardy approached five day old Elsie as she lay in her carry cot inside a shopping trolley then thumped her as the youngster's mother Amy looked on in horror.
The baby who was left in tears with a red mark to her face, was taken to hospital and was kept in for seven hours before being allowed home.
The incident went viral across social media after Miss Duckers, a 27-year old carer, relayed it on Facebook and branded the perpetrator as "sick, twisted and vile".
The prosecution said: 'Amy was shopping in Tesco with her family, her partner Lewis Temple, daughter Libby Brown and new baby Elsie Temple.