Baby almost drowned in own blood

After a 27-day-old baby's dad stuck his finger down her throat, the young child almost drowned in her own blood as it poured from the wound.

In February last year the man man was alone with his daughter in their Auckland bedroom when the incident happened.

When the baby was rushed to hospital, doctors initially feared they wouldn't be able to resuscitate the child as the gash bled heavily.

At a jury trial in the High Court at Auckland this year, the child's father was found guilty of causing the injury, most likely by sticking his finger down the girl's throat.

When she was in Starship Children's Hospital, X-rays found she was also suffering from broken ribs, said to have happened when the father squeezed her.

The man continued to protest his innocence, the court was told at his sentencing in the High Court today.

He was jailed for 6-1/2 years on one charge each of wounding with reckless disregard and injuring with reckless disregard.

The girl has made a full recovery and is now living with her maternal grandmother.

Crown prosecutor Tiffany Cooper said the girl's throat quickly filled with blood after the incident and her "life was put in the balance".

"It goes without saying that at 27 days of age you are a very young baby and completely defenceless," Mrs Cooper said.

"At the time she was injured, in my submission, you couldn't have a more vulnerable victim."

Defence lawyer Kelly-Ann Stoikoff said while her client protested his innocence, he would accept the sentence imposed.

"At the jury's verdicts he was devastated. He remains so."

The man hoped to start his life again when he left jail and wanted to remain part of his daughter's life. From prison, he received regular telephone updates on her progress, Ms Stoikoff said.

Justice Graham Lang said the child was at risk of drowning in her own blood. He told the man he had abused his position as the girl's care giver.

The man's sentence was increased because of his previous assault convictions, the most serious of which resulted in a 2-1/2 year jail term.

By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ

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