A father from southern Alberta who caused permanent injuries to his six-week-old daughter will spend seven years in prison, a judge ruled Friday (Aug. 4).
The 53-year-old Lethbridge man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and failing to provide his daughter with the necessaries of life.
Two charges of sexual assault and sexual interference were withdrawn by the Crown after finding “no medical evidence” to support them.
The man, who wore a blue jumpsuit, appeared Friday in the Alberta Court of Justice by video from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre and stared straight ahead as he received his sentence from the judge.
Justice Kristin Ailsby accepted a joint submission for the seven-year sentence from the Crown prosecutors and defence lawyer.
Ailsby, who referred to the victim as “baby girl” throughout her sentencing decision, said the baby was born in December 2022 and “arrived perfectly normal and healthy” before she experienced the “abhorrent” abuse.
An agreed statement of facts filed with the court said the man and his partner, who has also pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life, shared their home with a roommate.
In January, Ailsby said the roommate reported that he believed the infant was being assaulted in the home by her parents. It immediately led to an investigation by police and children’s services.
“They attended the home and discovered baby girl in a state of medical distress,” Ailsby said.
The statement of facts noted that the child struggled to breathe, had a twitch in her hand and a fixed gaze in her eyes. She had a seizure on the way to a Lethbridge hospital and was quickly transported by air ambulance to the children’s hospital in Calgary.
“They were not certain she would live,” said Ailsby, noting there was head trauma, spinal injuries and damaged blood vessels in her eyes.
The doctors, she said, determined the baby’s injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma, shaking and suffocation.
Ailsby said the girl spent several months in the hospital and was discharged to the care of a foster mother in April.
“Her current prognosis is very uncertain,” said the judge. “Doctors do not know if she will ever see out of her left eye and they believe it’s very possible that she will live with cerebral palsy for her entire life.”
Ailsby said the man has expressed remorse for what happened to his daughter but couldn’t explain why he hurt her.
Court previously heard that the man had a difficult upbringing, having lived in 19 different foster homes, where he experienced physical abuse and developed serious mental illnesses.
His personal difficulties, the judge said, still don’t provide a reason.
“He knows as do we that he is unequivocally responsible for causing lifelong pain and devastating injuries to baby girl,” said Ailsby.
She added that the roommate who reported the abuse ultimately saved the child.
The baby’s mother is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.
The Canadian Press