A MAN who hit his four-year-old daughter over the head with a cricket bat “as hard as he could” while the girl was sleeping has been jailed for a maximum of six years and nine months in Newcastle District Court.
The man, who cannot be named because it would identify the young girl, was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis and had heard voices telling him to hurt the child.
He told Judge Tanya Bright during a sentence hearing in June that he was concerned he had inflicted permanent damage when he struck the girl on the morning of February 19, 2017.
“Very ashamed,” the man said when his barrister, Rebecca Suters, asked how he felt. “Because no child deserves that.”
The man, a long-term drug addict, had been using cannabis, ice and Xanax up until two days before the sickening attack.
And when he awoke on February 19 he was hearing voices telling him his daughter was going to have a miserable life and he should put her out of his misery.
The man says he struck the child once to the head “as hard as he could” while she slept, but the girl later told police her father had hit her three times.
“It’s difficult to imagine a more vulnerable victim than a sleeping child,” DPP solicitor Kristy Mulley said in June.
The girl was later discovered by her grandmother face down in bed with blood coming from her by head.
The grandmother asked the girl’s father “Did you do this?”, to which he replied “Yes”.
She was taken to John Hunter Hospital suffering multiple skull fractures and bruising to the brain.
Ms Suters had submitted that the man’s drug-induced psychosis reduced his level of moral culpability, but both Ms Mulley and Judge Bright disagreed.
“It explains his conduct,” Judge Bright said. “But it is self-induced psychosis, taking drugs of his own volition.”
Under cross-examination from Ms Mulley, the man acknowledged he had been admitted to a psychiatric unit in December 2016 and January 2017, hearing voices and suffering from a drug-induced psychosis. But both times, once released, he went back to using drugs. “He had ample opportunity to reflect on his drug use and his decline in mental health,” Ms Mulley said. “He was well aware of the connection between the two. And that deprives him of any leniency.”
The man pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail.
On Wednesday, Judge Bright jailed the man for a maximum of six years and nine months, with a non-parole period of four years and six months.
He will be eligible for parole in August 2021.