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April 29, 2020

On 25 July 2017, A, an 11-day-old baby was admitted to hospital having been subjected to two, distinct, inflicted injuries. The first, described as a significant assault to the head resulted in a bleed to the brain. The second, a cluster of injuries included a bruise near to the nostril, a torn frenulum, burst blood vessels in the mouth and a cut to the lip. The defendants were charged with causing the injuries and an alternative of neglect as a consequence of a failure to seek immediate medical assistance. Both subsequently pleaded guilty to neglect on the basis of a delay of 75 minutes in calling the emergency services.

They were sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on 23 April 2020, with the court adhering to the new remote-style of working. Prior to the hearing all parties had drafted submissions in respect of sentence which were uploaded to the Digital Case System (DCS). At the hearing, the attendance of one defendant was excused whilst the other attended court. Jo Martin QC who prosecuted and Sarah Regan and Anna Midgley acting for the defendants, all appeared via Skype. The press represented by Geoff Bennett, also attended via Skype.

Following a seamless and fully interactive hearing, HHJ Hart, also present in court, sentenced each defendant to six months imprisonment suspended for 18 months with an activity requirement of up to 25 days. Sentencing them, HHJ Hart commented that ‘the prosecution cannot say which of the two of you was responsible for causing the injuries or if it was a joint enterprise, and so any speculation in respect of that is unhelpful and must be ignored, but it is hoped that whoever it is ought to bear the burden forever’.