Ilfracombe dad fractured baby daughter’s skull

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

An Ilfracombe father who slammed his three-week-old daughter’s head against a kitchen counter in an early morning ‘flash of frustration’ has been told to expect jail after admitting inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Former trainee teacher Robin Bearman had got up to give the little girl her 6am feed when he became angry at the child's crying and carried out the attack.

Exeter Crown Court was told the 28-year-old shook the baby twice and hit her head on the counter twice, causing two skull fractures and a serious bleed on the brain.

She needed intensive care treatment at Bristol Children's Hospital and was initially thought to have suffered a serious brain injury. She had made a good recovery but is still being monitored.

Bearman, who resides in St Brannocks Road, admitted causing grievous bodily harm to the infant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and will be sentenced next month.

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On Wednesday, October 16 a jury at Exeter Crown Court found him not guilty of the more serious charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent after a three day trial.

The court heard he told his wife that he banged the baby's head by accident while opening a cupboard and maintained this lie for about a week until doctors told them it could not be true.

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He then invented a second lie in which he said he dropped the baby and she hit her head on his knee when he stuck it out to break her fall.

He only told the truth after three specialists had given evidence in a family court case that considerable force would have been needed to cause the injuries.

Judge Timothy Rose told him: "The fact that I am ordering a report and granting you bail is entirely no indication of the outcome. The overwhelming probability, the near certainty, is that you will go to prison."

Peter Coombe, prosecuting, said Bearman assaulted the three-and-a-half-week-old baby during the summer of 2017, while his wife Lucy was asleep upstairs at their former home in Meadowbrook, Barnstaple.

She woke to hear the baby crying in an unusual way and then saw a golf-ball sized lump on the side of her head.

Bearman could be heard sobbing uncontrollably on the 999 call and his wife had to take over.

The baby was taken to North Devon District Hospital before an emergency transfer to Bristol, where CT and MRI scans showed two fractures and internal bleeding.

The injuries suggested the child had been shaken violently and hit against a hard object.

Doctors feared the baby had suffered permanent damage through the oxygen supply to the brain being cut off by the bleed, although the child has recovered well in the two years since and is now progressing normally.

Lucy Bearman, who split up with her husband after the attack, said in a statement that they married in 2014 and thought the birth of their daughter was the best time of their lives.

He was about to qualify as a teacher and she had recently finished a degree in psychology. They were sharing parenting duties with her doing the midnight and 3am feeds and him the 6am feed.

She said she felt as if she had been put under suspicion because of Bearman's lies and had almost lost custody of the child altogether.

Bearman told the jury he had no intention of hurting his daughter but had done so in a sudden and inexplicable flash of frustration when he had just woken and was tired.

He sobbed as he said: "I had a flash of frustration. I have never experienced anything of that strength before. I felt I had failed. I did not want to hurt her. I was weeping and holding her.

"I did not tell Lucy the truth because of shame and guilt. I knew what I had done. I did not want to be that. I did not want to have done that."

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