The 26-year-old Dublin man, who can't be named to protect the identity of his child, pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting the one-month-old baby at a homeless hostel in Dublin on January 2, 2017. The maximum sentence for common assault is six months.
Garda Emmet Cooke told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday that the man and his partner, the mother of his newborn son, were in homeless accommodation when the man brought heroin back to their room on the day in question.
The pair started arguing about the drugs, before the baby started “screaming crying”, the man later told gardaí. He said he flew into a rage and picked up the baby's bottle and threw it at the mother, who was holding the crying baby.
The man said the lid came off the bottle and hit the baby on the forehead, while the bottle hit his partner. The man then “broke up the room” and left, the court heard. He told gardaí he did not mean for the bottle to hit the child.
Social workers alerted gardaí shortly afterwards, with gardaí noticing a bruise to the baby's forehead. The child was not seriously injured, the court heard.
The man, who is now a father of three, was not interviewed by gardaí until 2019, due to his “transient lifestyle,” the court heard. He was questioned in relation to this matter after he was imprisoned for robbery.
The man has 67 previous convictions, including for assault, burglary, theft and threat to kill.
Keith Spencer BL, defending, said his client had a history of homelessness and at the time of the offence, was addicted to drugs and suffering from significant mental health issues, including schizophrenia.
He was “physically, psychologically and emotionally” neglected and spent much of his childhood in care. He has weaned himself off drugs since going into custody and is on a methadone programme.
The man is due to be released from custody in July but, passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said the man deserved to stay in prison a bit longer as a result of this offence.
“It is reckless to throw a bottle at your partner when she is holding a one-month-old baby,” the judge said, handing down a four-month sentence.