Jamie Keenan escapes jail after slapping baby

Image caption,
20-year-old Jamie Keenan escaped jail after slapping a sick baby in hospital.

A man who admitted slapping a sick baby in a hospital children's ward has escaped jail after a sheriff said he had suffered enough.

Jamie Keenan, 20, from Grangemouth, repeatedly struck the four-and-a-half month child on the face while he was trying to feed him during the night.

Nurses saw him on CCTV "tapping" the baby's cheek with his finger before hitting him with increasing force.

When checking on Keenan afterwards he said the feed was just "a bit slow".

But Stirling Sheriff Court was told that Keenan had shown "commitment" by working full-time during the day before walking to the hospital to look after the baby overnight.

Sheriff Wyllie Robertson imposed a 12-month community payback order on Keenan, during which time he will be under the supervision of social workers.

He said it was "unfortunate" that Keenan had lost his job because of "adverse publicity" surrounding the case.

He said: "One of the striking factors of the mitigation that I was given was the commitment that Mr Keenan was showing up until the event.

"Because of his commitment, he was on occasions walking from that employer to the hospital.

"It is unfortunate that from the adverse publicity arising from this case he has lost his job."

Defence agent Gordon Addison said: "Mr Keenan is now unemployed because his employer didn't want any adverse publicity.

"He and his partner are no longer together. He is now a recluse because of this publicity."

Guilty plea

Keenan pleaded guilty last month to a charge of culpable recklessness.

But he had first appeared from custody, on petition, accused of attempted murder at Falkirk Sheriff Court on June 4, 2012.

The baby, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was an in-patient at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Stirlingshire, and suffered from Pierre Robin Syndrome.

He had a smaller than usual jaw, a cleft pallet, and a tongue which would slip down the back of his throat, causing breathing difficulties.

Kirsten Cockburn, prosecuting, told the court the baby had been transferred to the neonatal unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital after his birth, in mid January, 2012, before briefly being transferred to Yorkhill Children's hospital in Glasgow and then returning to Forth Valley.

According to the charge, Kennan repeatedly hit the baby on the face with his hand, and putted pressure on its head, all to its injury, in the children's ward on June 1, 2012.

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