a MAN who was found guilty yesterday of the attempted
murder of a baby claimed he had been “shoogling” the crying infant.
John Dobbie fractured the child’s skull and left him blind and brain damaged after repeatedly shaking him and striking his head against a surface.
A hospital worker who saw the baby said: “I have seen a cot death baby that looked better than that little boy did.”
Dobbie, 36, denied attempting to murder the three-month-old boy at his home in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 2011 but was found guilty of the offence at the High Court in Edinburgh.
He was convicted of assaulting the baby to his severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life. The jury acquitted him of an earlier attack on the baby, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
The court heard that the child now suffers from cerebral palsy affecting his whole body. He has a limited range of movement and will never be independently mobile. He will be dependent on carers for the rest of his life.
Notes prepared by a health visitor who saw the boy days before the attack had described the baby as “bright and alert”.
Dobbie arrived at the Victoria Hospital, in Kirkcaldy, with the child on 5 June in 2011.
Receptionist Silvano Costagliola said she was not sure whether the child was alive or dead. She said: “He actually looked like he was dead. I couldn’t see him moving at all. I was just shocked at how the baby looked.”
Ms Costagliola said Dobbie did not know the child’s date of birth and when she questioned him he got angry.
Nurse Jacqueline Keir told the court: “I initially thought the baby was dead when I first saw it just because it was so lifeless and still and the colour.”
She said the baby started crying when she moved his hand.
“It sounded to me like the baby was in pain,” she said.
The child was transferred to another Fife hospital for specialist paediatric care.
Consultant paediatrician John Morrice noted bruising on the child’s torso and pinprick bruises on other areas such as the top of the head. He said the priority was to keep the baby alive, to resuscitate and stabilise him. He told the court: “He had life-threatening injuries.”
The child was transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh where a CT scan was carried out. He was later taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill in Glasgow to enable him to undergo neurosurgery.
He then went back to a Fife hospital but was returned to a specialist children’s hospital because of continuing problems with seizures.
Detective Constable Kim Stuart said Dingwall-born Dobbie had told him that he did not notice any marks on his body.
Dobbie, who is unemployed, said he had needed to go to the toilet and put the child in an upright position but when he returned, found he had slipped on to his side and his head was resting on a plastic phone toy.
Dobbie said the child was crying and he picked him up and noticed a red mark.
He said he was “shoogling” the child and noticed the baby’s eyes were rolling back.
But jurors heard that expert evidence pointed to the baby suffering violent shaking and direct impact to his head.
The judge deferred sentence on Dobbie for background reports. Lord Armstrong said: “The jury have found you guilty of this grave charge.” Dobbie was remanded in custody.