A young father from Barrie, Ontario, who was accused of leaving his one-month-old daughter with severe brain damage after critically injuring her, was found not guilty. The Barrie father accused of injuring his newborn was acquitted after a court determined that it was unable to rule out the possibility that the baby had been injured by her mother.
The father, who at the time of the alleged assault was 19-years-old, was charged by police with aggravated assault and failing to provide necessaries of life, CP24 reports. His one-month-old daughter was rushed to hospital on December 27th, 2016.
According to court documents, the young girl continues to demonstrate "significant developmental delays and a limited prognosis for recovery." Based on testimony at the trial, medical experts determined that the girl had been hit on the head or shaken, or perhaps both, but were unable to specify the time that the infant was injured. The only information that could be confirmed was that the girl's symptoms emerged within a span of minutes, and gradually worsened over time.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca released the court's decision last week that based on the evidence presented during the trial, it was impossible to determine which of the girl's parents inflicted the injuries, reports CP24.
According to court documents, the infant was in her father's care at his family's home on Boxing Day of 2016. At approximately noon the following day, the father dropped his daughter off with her mother. Although the girl seemed pale and refused to comply during feeding, the evidence presented during the trial confirmed that these symptoms were "non-specific" and could be demonstrated by any child that hasn't experienced brain trauma.
Court documents also explain that the girl's mother attempted to take her baby to a previously-scheduled appointment with her pediatrician. However, she had mistaken the date of the appointment, and the doctor's office was closed. The documents also disclose that in a state of frustration, the mother opted to go shopping along with a friend and the baby that afternoon.
In the early evening, the friend recognized that the baby began violently twitching, and recommended the girl's mother take her to hospital. After shopping for about 45 minutes more, the mother finally called Telehealth, after which paramedics rushed the baby to hospital.
The infant's physicians determined that the girl was lethargic, had an irregular heartbeat, and stopped breathing every so often. Court documents recount that the baby was also twitching on her left side and required "extensive life resuscitation efforts."
The infant was ultimately transferred to Toronto's Sick Kids hospital, where she was diagnosed with extensive retinal hemorrhages in both eyes and bleeding on both sides of the brain, CP24 reports. She also experienced inflammation and a tear to the brain tissue, bleeding around the spine and damage to the ligaments around the base of her skull, neck and spine.
In his judgement, Di Luca commented, "This is an incredibly tragic case. A young baby, barely a month old, sustained severe brain injuries that imperilled her life. By some miracle, she did not die. Her life was, however, forever altered."
“On the evidence before me, it is likely that both (the mother and father) were too young and too ill-equipped to become parents.”
Di Luca added, "While it is possible that the child was manifesting symptoms of the injury that grew more severe as the day progressed, one other possible explanation is that the child was injured later that day."
Judge Di Luca did note that the mother's account of the shopping trip was "concerning", implying that the woman perhaps was hesitant to take her child to the hospital because she didn't want the circumstances surrounding the case to be revealed.
The ruling states, "She is clearly reluctant to seek medical attention when it is obvious that the baby is in distress. This reluctance raises a concern that she possibly had something to do with the child's injuries and was, perhaps, hoping that the child was going to be OK without the need for any medical intervention."
Although Judge Di Luca did not exonerate the mother from responsibility, he did emphasize that he could not establish that she had injured her daughter. Additionally, he couldn't conclusively prove that the father was guilty, nor could he determine if the father had failed get the baby the medical resources she required.