A baby boy could have suffered permanent brain damage when frustrated Stuart Leech bent his head between his feet and shook him because he would not stop crying.
Jailing Leech for three years and two months, a judge told him that when a grown man assaults a baby, his culpability is ‘off the scale.’
Leech ,24, of Ranelagh Terrace, Leamington, at the time, had been charged with cruelty to a child, which he denied.
But following his arrest after he failed to turn up for his trial Leech, who was living at an address in Cardigan as a condition of bail, pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of assault.
Prosecutor Tom Schofield said that in 2012, when the baby boy was just under six months old, he began crying while strapped in a bouncing chair on the sofa.
Leech went over and unstrapped him, but was told by the boy’s mother to leave him alone.
He left him, but then went back and grabbed the baby’s head and bent it forward between the little boy’s feet before letting go.
Leech did the same on two further occasions before shaking the baby’s head from side to side three or four times.
When the boy’s mother intervened and took him from him, Leech complained: ‘He just wouldn’t stop crying’.
When doctors later examined the baby they found bruising to its lip and a subdural haemorrhage.
There were also non-accidental historic fractures to a rib and to the radial bone in his left arm, but Mr Schofield said: “There was no way of saying the defendant caused them.”
He pointed out that the baby’s mother had also been questioned about the old injuries and had a child taken from her as a result, which she had found ‘heartbreaking’.
Mr Schofield added that, although it had not led to a prosecution, there had been a previous incident when it was said Leech put his hand over the mouth of another baby when it was just nine weeks old.
Stefan Kolodynski, defending, said: “The pre-sentence report does not make encouraging reading. He has resigned himself to a custodial sentence.
“He is a young man who has a difficulty in life. He had too much responsibility too soon, and he just can’t control his emotions.
“He knows just how lucky that child was that serious injury was not caused.
Mr Kolodynski said the baby was examined by ‘a pre-eminent doctor in the field of subdural haemorrhaging,’ and has made a full recovery.
Jailing Leech, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “The child was crying, and the way in which you dealt with it was by bending his head forward between his legs and then shaking it three or four times.
“We see, in this court, cases where behaviour of this sort leads to children suffering very serious brain injuries or even death.
“A baby is very, very fragile at that age, and can suffer permanent brain injury as a result of something like this.”