Woman gets 22-month suspended jail sentence for shaking a baby, causing brain damage

Lincoln Crown Court
Lincoln Crown Court

A woman momentarily shook a four month old baby, causing the child serious brain injury, Lincoln Crown Court was told today (Friday).

Jamie-Lee Lauren Cooper, 30, of Mill Lane, Billinghay, admitted a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm arising from the incident on January 2, 2017.

She was given a 22 month jail sentence suspended for two years with a 20 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

The court heard Cooper initially claimed that the child, referred to as Baby C for legal reasons, refused a bottle and then went floppy.

But later she went on to admit that she had shaken the little girl.

John McNally, prosecuting, said that Cooper rang her mother and then her husband for advice before calling the emergency services.

Mr McNally said: “The history she gave as to why the child was as it was, is inaccurate.

“A paramedic was there in a very short time. It was established the child was seriously injured. She had sustained brain injury as a result of being shaken by the defendant that morning.”

Baby C was taken by air ambulance to Lincoln County Hospital and later transferred to the Queen’s Medical Centre at Nottingham.

Mr McNally said: “A scan was undertaken. This revealed that the child had experienced trauma to the brain. There was acute and chronic bleeding to the brain and some evidence of the brain being damaged by oxygen deprivation.

“The child presented with a pattern of injuries associated with being shaken. The force required to cause the injury was beyond that of normal domestic handling.

“The police interviewed the defendant. She was asked if she had caused grievous bodily harm to the child by shaking or physical assault. She said she definitely would not have done that.

“She said the child had been unsettled and screaming and refused a bottle, then went floppy. She denied it was her at all.”

Mr McNally said that as a result of what she said Cooper’s husband remained a suspect until she made a statement in which she admitted shaking the child once or twice.

“The consultant says Baby C is likely to have a significant neurological defect, but it will be some years before he can fully assess the child. He said there were worrying features of behaviour which suggests she may be severely handicapped and may need to receive life-long nursing care.”

Judge John Pini QC described the injury to Baby C as “catastrophic”.

Passing sentence the judge said that a medical report revealed that Cooper has suffered from deep-seated mental health problems dating back to childhood.

He told Cooper: “The addendum to the report shows that you have remorse, guilt and shame about your actions.

“My judgement overall is that the mitigating features outweigh the aggravating features.

“This is an utterly tragic case. It is a profoundly difficult sentencing.”

Mark Watson, in mitigation, said that Cooper has been diagnosed with Turner Syndrome which she has suffered from since childhood.

He said she also suffered from a form of depression and he told the court: “On the day in question she woke up feeling exhausted, tearful, over-whelmed and alone. That brought her to breaking point.

“At the time of the offence she had not been given the tools to cope. That is of enormous significance. She has since accessed those tools.”

Mr Watson said that “a raft of references” had been submitted from people who spoke extremely highly of Cooper.

“There is enormous remorse. It is clear that she is a well-meaning and good person who was broken by circumstances some of which were not entirely within her control at that time.”