A MUM-of-two has told how her ex-boyfriend was jailed for ten years after shaking their baby so hard he will be disabled for life.
Former teaching assistant Natasha Richards, 27, watched on in court as Nicholas Bateman, 31, pleaded guilty to shaking their seven-week-old baby.
Bateman called Natasha home from a doctor's appointment on March 9, 2018, claiming their son hit his lip on his collarbone and wasn't moving.
But a far nastier tale emerged in a lengthy court battle that ended last week.
Their baby, now five, was left unconscious on the couch of their Aberdare home as Natasha raced home on March 9, 2018.
Bateman eventually pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) at Cardiff Crown Court on March 20.
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Natasha told the Sun Online: "I really couldn't believe he could do something like this. I hate it. It's just so desperately sad. My son has been left with lifelong developmental issues."
The police originally arrested both Bateman and Natasha after their baby spent weeks in a coma and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
He isn’t able to speak, eat or stand because of his injuries.
Because of Nicholas’ lie Natasha was forced to endure hours of gruelling questioning.
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Natasha said: "If Nicholas had just told the truth earlier that wouldn't have happened. He just kept saying how our son hit his lip, he never said anything about shaking him.
"If he had the doctors could have treated him for shaken baby syndrome and things might have been different."
Eventually Natasha was cleared.
She watched on in court as her ex-partner of five years pleaded guilty to seriously hurting their baby last month – five years on from the attack.
"There's no words to describe how I felt when I heard him admit to it. The anger I felt in that moment overtook any anger I've ever felt before," she said.
He was sentenced to 10 years and nine months after deductions for his guilty plea on May 3.
She added: "Honestly I just feel really numb, it hasn’t hit me fully.
"It isn’t enough time for the damage he caused to our lives. I don't think any amount of time would be enough, my son has got to live with his disability for the rest of life.
"He had had the life he was born with taken away from him by Nicholas.
"If anything he should have had the maximum sentence for the charge he was given, or more in my eyes."
Natasha had left the house to go for a doctors' appointment when she got a call from Bateman.
"He phoned me to say the baby banged his lips on his collarbone. I got straight on the bus to come home, a ten-minute journey.
"Then I got another call saying the baby had gone funny and floppy. I got off the bus and ran.
"I ran through the back door and into the living room where my baby was laying lifeless on the sofa.
"Nicholas raised the baby's arm and it just fell down on the sofa when he dropped it.
"I called for an ambulance and had to perform CPR."
When paramedics arrived the baby was given oxygen and rushed to hospital.
She added: "He was really ill but the only explanation we had was that he'd hit his lip. By the following afternoon at 2pm he was having seizures, which he'd never suffered from before."
My baby had to be put into a coma because his seizures were up to 50 minutes long.
Natasha said: "They did x-rays and exams and it came back that the baby had a few fractured bones. He had been shaken, further reports indicated.
"I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to think Nicholas was capable of that, I'd trusted him."
Some two weeks afterwards the police turned up at the door and arrested both Natasha and Bateman.
"No further action was taken against me but because I called 999 I was placed at the scene. They took the children from me and they were separated.
"Eventually they found it wasn't me and he was charged with causing Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH).
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Meanwhile, Natasha's son has been left with cerebral palsy. He can't walk and can only babble rather than talk.
"He's got huge developmental delays," she added. "This will affect him for the rest of his life. I have been left completely devastated."
What is shaken baby syndrome?
SHAKEN baby syndrome is a serious form of child abuse, that can be extremely fatal to infants.
One in six inflicted infant deaths is now being recorded as a result of shaking – with one case every week in the UK.
What is shaken baby syndrome?
Babies have weak neck muscles and often struggle to support their heavy heads. If a baby is forcefully shaken, his or her fragile brain moves back and forth inside the skull.
This causes bruising, swelling and bleeding, and can be fatal.
Shaken baby syndrome usually occurs when a parent or caregiver severely shakes a baby or toddler due to frustration or anger — often because the child won't stop crying.
It isn't usually caused by simple, day-to-day movements such as bouncing a child on your knee, minor falls or even rough play.
Dr. Harvey Karp, CEO of Happiest Baby inc, explains: “Shaken baby syndrome is arguably the deadliest form of child abuse.
“It usually occurs before 12 months of age when a parent finally loses patience with their inability to soothe the babies crying and grabs the baby by the shoulders rapidly shaking the baby’s body out of frustration.
“The babies heavy head may be hit against a surface or snapped back-and-forth on the infant’s thin neck causing the soft brain inside to bang against the hard inside of the skull causing brain swelling and tearing tiny veins causing life-threatening bleeding.
“Clearly, the serious cases are the tip of the iceberg.
"Many children may have minimal brain damage that is not diagnosed but perhaps goes on to cause neurological problems such as attention deficit and learning problems.”
John McMullan, the consultant paediatric neurosurgeon at Sheffield Children's Hospital, told the BBC that shaking a baby caused brain injuries similar to those in boxing.
But he said: "In boxing, the incidences of the head blows are relatively infrequent and so that damage is taking place over, typically, years.
"Whereas with an infant shaking, the damage is occurring in seconds."
What are symptoms and signs of shaken baby syndrome?
According to Mayo Clinic shaken baby syndrome symptoms and signs include:
- Extreme fussiness or irritability
- Difficulty staying awake
- Breathing problems
- Poor eating
- Pale or bluish skin
New parent classes can help parents better understand the dangers of violent shaking and could provide lifesaving tips to soothe a crying baby and manage stress.
It's important to always treat your child gently, so if you're having trouble managing your emotions or the stress of parenthood, you should speak to your doctor.
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