A man with an admitted temper problem who left a four-week-old baby with catastrophic injuries after a murder bid was jailed for 15 years today.
Ross Dunn shook the little girl and struck her off a surface after he was left looking after the tot and her older sister when her mother went out.
His victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, suffered a fractured skull, broken leg, eye damage, bleeding and bruising following the attack at her home in Edinburgh. She is now registered blind.
A judge told Dunn at the High Court in Edinburgh: “This was an inexplicable, horrendous crime committed on a tiny baby.”
Lord Malcolm said: “It is plain that only a lengthy custodial sentence would be appropriate.”
The judge pointed out that the assault left the child with multiple injuries and has left the victim “permanently and severely disabled”.
“She will never be able to enjoy a normal life. It was only thanks to the excellent care and treatment from doctors and other staff at the Sick Children’s Hospital that she survived,” said the judge.
“Nonetheless, the impact upon her mother, sister and other family could hardly be more serious,” he added.
Lord Malcolm said the jury at his trial had concluded that the nature and severity of the assault on the child demonstrated that at the time he did not care whether the child lived or died and thus convicted of attempted murder
The child’s mother told the High Court in Edinburgh: “She is a good little girl, but she has been left with very severe, lifelong disabilities.”
“She is not mobile. She is very floppy like a small baby. She will likely never stand, walk, even sit by herself,” she told jurors.
Dunn, 28, had earlier denied attempting to murder the child at a flat in Edinburgh on November 17 in 2013 but was found guilty after a trial.
He was convicted of assaulting her to her severe injury and permanent impairment by seizing her by the body, shaking her, striking her against a surface or by means unknown to the prosecutor and attempting to murder her.
He was also found guilty of failing to seek timely medical aid for the child knowing she was unwell and failing to tell doctors treating her the way in which she was injured.
After Dunn, who has previous convictions for assault, was found guilty of the offences advocate depute Bruce Erroch told the judge that two victim impact statements had been completed on behalf of the child by her mother.
The child was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh where it was noted that her heart rate was very high and there were signs her brain was not working properly.
A consultant in paediatric and emergency medicine said she was taking occasional pauses in her breathing and he had documented “a high pitched scream”
A pattern of bruising was found above the child’s ankle which was suggestive of being caused by “gripped fingers”.
Cannabis smoker Dunn told his defence counsel, Donald Findlay QC, that he had not intentionally harmed the child.
He said he had got up with the child to get a bottle for her and was holding her in his right arm and fell as he tried to avoid a baby walker used by the older girl.
He told the court: “From what I remember, at that point I tried to pull her in towards me. I knew I was going to hit the floor.”
Dunn, of Wester Drylaw Place, Edinburgh, said it was a “really heavy” fall. “Immediately I thought she was OK. For the first few seconds I really thought she was OK, but very quickly after that I realised she probably was not, but I hoped.”
“I just hoped it would go away. I thought she would get better,” he told the court.
Dunn agreed with the prosecutor when he put it to him that he was a man who has had problems with his temper.
During an interview with police Dunn said that he sometimes lost control quickly. He agreed that he could lose his temper and overreact.
Dunn told the child’s mother that he had fallen with the little girl but she was ok. He later sent her a message telling her the baby was asleep but woke herself with hiccups.
He denied that he told the mother “I will go to jail for this” when she returned home.
Mr Erroch told jurors: “On November 17 in 2013 a four-week-old baby appeared to be perfectly well when her mother left her to be looked after by Ross Dunn.”
“During the few hours she was away something happened to the baby as a consequences of which she suffered life-threatening injuries and has been left profoundly disabled.”
The advocate depute maintained that the pattern of multiple injuries found on the child was not consistent with an accident. He contended that injuries found on the baby were consistent with shaking.
Mr Erroch said the consequences were “the most appalling combination of disability for a baby to live with for the rest of her life”.
The prosecutor said that Dunn was “a man who by his own admission has problems with his temper”. He told jurors: “He lost control. He lost his temper.”
Defence counsel Donald Findlay QC said Dunn’s position remained the same as at the time of trial.
“He accepted and accepts whatever did happen he could have summoned medical assistance more promptly,” he said.
He said Dunn was “a polite, courteous, sensible young man” who for a variety did not seem to be coping particularly well with his life at the time.