A former bus driver who battered a prematurely-born baby – leaving her with permanent brain damage so she will be unable to properly speak – was jailed for three years today.
Scott Innes (30), was looking after the 11 week-old tot, the weight of just two bags of sugar, while her mother went to the bingo in Bo’ness.
Suddenly he phoned to say she had “fallen off the sofa” onto a laminate floor, even though, at only two days past what would have been her full-term delivery date, the mite was not independently-mobile.
He followed up with a photo – showing bruising right across her forehead, down to her ear, and starting to spread down her whole face.
Her mother and grandmother rushed home and the child was taken to the Forth Valley Royal Hospital, in Larbert where she was found to have subdural bruising on the brain and a sub-conjunctival haematoma to her right eye.
She also had three fractured ribs and “extensive intercranial injuries”. She later developed “structural changes” to her brain, which lost volume while increased internal pressure caused her head to increase in size.
More than two years after the incident, she still has a “shunt” in her head to reduce this pressure, and her speech centre is irreparably damaged.
Though she has made “excellent progress”, her mum and gran have been told she may never be able to form a sentence – just utter single words.
Stirling Sheriff Court heard that although there was no direct evidence of how Innes – the only person with the child on the evening of the incident, May 30, 2017 – had inflicted her injuries, the medical evidence was “overwhelmingly clear” that they were not accidental.
Doctors said her rib injuries must have been caused by “significant force, such as squeezing” and the eye haematoma also by significant force, perhaps by shaking.
After a six day trial in July, a jury of seven men and eight women took little more than two hours to find Innes, of Ritchie Place, Bo’ness, guilty of assaulting her to her severe injury and permanent impairment and inflicting blunt-force trauma on her “by means to the prosecutor unknown”.
The verdict was by majority.
Innes, a first offender, who pleaded not guilty, did not give evidence.
Sheriff William Gilchrist said today that one of the difficulties he faced in sentencing was that the “precise mechanism” by which the child received her injuries remained unclear.
But imposing the three year jail term, he added: “On the other hand the degree of harm is not in doubt.
“Based on the evidence, I have to believe this was an aberration on your part, born out of frustration, or whatever, but it had very serious consequences in respect of a young baby in your care.
“This was a serious offence and imprisonment is inevitable.”
Innes wept as he was handcuffed to a security guard and led to the cells.
Defence solicitor Gordon Addision said Innes suffered from anxiety, had lost more than two stone in weight during the course of the case, and following news of the verdict, had been “hounded” in the community.
Prosecutor Samantha Brown said: “People can do things that are evil without warning. The tragic inescapable truth is that Scott Innes deliberately inflicted these injuries on this baby.”