Ballarat father accused of shaking his baby, causing severe injury

File image.
File image.

A Ballarat man is facing two charges of twice recklessly and negligently causing serious injury to his seven-week-old infant child. 

Charges show the infant presented respectively at the Ballarat Base Hospital and the Royal Children’s Hospital on April 13 and 20 this year. 

During a committal hearing at the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court yesterday, acting director of forensic pediatric medicine at the Royal Children's Hospital Dr Joanna Tully gave her perspective on the injuries the child suffered.  

She said at the Royal Children’s, the baby showed severe injuries that were consistent with being jolted with some force. 

Dr Tully said the baby showed no external bruising or trauma when first assessed but clinical tests revealed a number of medical issues. 

The child’s pathology showed the baby was anaemic and Dr Tully said the infant’s low red-blood cell count was indicative of bleeding. 

“Those indices indicate a physiological anaemia or the possibility of blood loss, that [the baby] bled somewhere,” she said.  

Scans showed the child had suffered from subdural hematoma, or bleeding on the brain, in multiple areas and damage to the grey and white matter to the brain. 

Dr Tully said these injuries, along with multi-layered damage to the baby’s retinas, were consistent with a traumatic head injury. 

“We see this in sheering forces, damage to the grey and white matter, sometimes in high velocity car accidents and falls but mostly commonly where we suspect head trauma,” she said. 

MRI scans at the Royal Children’s Hospital also showed the baby had ligament injuries to neck and back. 

“The scan of the spine showed partial tears of the posterior longitudinal ligaments connecting the bones of the vertebrae that stablise the neck,” she said. 

“It is obvious the infant suffered a severe brain injury and will suffer developmental setbacks.”

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is expected to have his case referred to a higher court in the coming months.