Appeal court increases baby basher's sentence

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 12:13 08/11/2012

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A young father who repeatedly broke his baby daughter's limbs has been jailed for two years and five months after the Appeal Court found his original sentence of 12 months home detention was insufficient.

Hawke's Bay man James Hall, now 20, was sentenced in the High Court at Napier on August 13 after earlier pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to injure and a representative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with careless disregard.

In March last year, his four-month-old daughter was admitted to hospital with broken femurs in each leg, and an older break to her tibia.

Hall admitted that when he was alone with the baby he "grabbed her left foot, pushed it back up so it was bending her whole left leg up behind the baby's back", the police summary said.

He knew what he was doing was wrong but was not thinking.

"He stated that once or twice he meant to hurt her by bending her leg back in blind anger - not realising what he was actually doing," the police summary said. He also squeezed her firmly against his chest three or four times.

Justice Mary Peters started sentencing at three years and three months, but reduced that to 12 months home detention and barred him from being with children under 10.

The sentence was appealed by the Solicitor-General.

The Appeal Court decision, released today, found that Justice Peters ''erred in adopting a starting point of two years nine months imprisonment for the first count and then increasing it by only six months for the second representative count, which reflected Mr Hall's serial violence towards his baby during the first four months of her life,'' the court ruled.

Hall has been directed to surrender himself to the Hastings police station on or before Monday. The baby, whose name is suppressed, is now nearly 2.

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- The Dominion Post

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