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Man who punched baby told to expect jail

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Portadown man has been told to expect a prison sentence after he punched a baby because she was crying when he was trying to watch X-Factor.

Belfast Crown Court heard Darren Eamonn Fagan had inflicted severe head injuries when he attacked the toddler in Bessbrook in 2014.

Fagan, 29, from Portadown, had been due to stand trial for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent. But he recently pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of GBH with intent.

Friday's court sitting heard Fagan told a probation officer that he had punched the baby on the head as she wouldn't stop crying.

The court also heard that Fagan, formerly of Clonavon Avenue, Portadown has an "extensive criminal record'' - including convictions for violence.

At the time of the Bessbrook assault on 19 October 2014, the young victim was aged two years and four months.

At that point, her mother, who was separated from the child's father, had met Fagan about "eight to 10 times''.

He had stayed over at her house in Bessbrook on the night before the assault and it was alleged that, on the day of the attack, Fagan started drinking cider at about 13:30.

As she went upstairs, the mother alleged that her daughter "stopped crying" and she heard a "sudden noise... like a thud".

A prosecution barrister told the court: "She says that within three seconds of hearing the thud she was in the room and saw the defendant standing up, crouched over her daughter's bed.

The barrister described how the mother managed to get out the front door with the toddler and carried her up street to a neighbour's house.

"The child was violently vomiting at this stage,'' the senior prosecutor told the judge.

"The mother tried to use her mobile phone but it had no charge. She told people at the house to ring for an ambulance."

The court heard the child was brought into the house where a police officer performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her, and then she was transferred by ambulance to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

Doctors discovered that the toddler had sustained severe head injuries, including multiple fractures and a brain haemorrhage.

The court heard that the child's future prognosis is yet to be fully determined by medics but she will require "intervention and support in the future''.

A defence barrister told the court there was "no premeditation'' in his attack on the toddler and that Fagan had lost self-control in an "explosive incident".

The judge remanded him back into custody and said he will be sentenced on 9 June.

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