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Father Admits Shaking Daughter So Hard Brain Damaged

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 17 NZPA - A father today admitted shaking his infant daughter so hard he caused brain damage.

The plea by 31-year-old Christopher Dean Matthews came while a paediatric neurologist was giving prosecution evidence on the fifth day of his Christchurch District Court jury trial, the Christchurch Court News website reported.

Matthews pleaded guilty to charges of causing grievous bodily harm to his three-month-old daughter Caitlyn with reckless disregard for her safety, and an amended charge of assault on a child.

Judge Gary MacAskell remanded him on bail for a probation report and sentence on April 3.

It was a retrial for Matthews after the first was declared a mistrial in October 2007. Crown prosecutor Kerryn Beaton said Caitlyn was admitted to Christchurch Hospital on September 2005, so unwell that doctors did not think she would survive.

The child was having seizures. She was found to be suffering from a subdural bleed to the brain, and once stabilised she was transferred to Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland.

The girl was found to have suffered a serious head injury with damage to both sides of the brain. Doctors concluded that the injuries may have occurred weeks before her admission.

The paediatric neurologist who gave evidence as a crown expert said the brain injury could not have been an accident and was most likely caused by more severe actions than the accused had admitted to.

In a police interview on September 29, 2005, Matthews admitted shaking Caitlyn when she would not settle.

The court had been told that before she began suffering seizures, Caitlyn had been a happy baby who got into a regular feeding routine and slept easily.

She suffered permanent brain damage from the shaking.

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