Violence Against Children (Sentencing Cases)

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See also: Common Assault (Offence)
Case Name Prv. Crt. Sentence Summary
R v CDM, 2022 BCPC 144 (CanLII), per MacCarthy J BC PC 7 months CSO Two incidents of assault.
Keywords: guilty plea — 2.5-year-old son — bruising
R v JW, 2022 MBPC 49 (CanLII), per Frederickson J MB PC 22 months imprisonment (ACBH)
Keywords: 21-month-old step-son
R v HDH, 2021 ABPC 306 (CanLII), per Molle J AB PC 6 months CSO "HDH assaulted KH in her bedroom in the family home first by slapping her face and head with his hands. He then obtained a plastic hairbrush from the bathroom and used it to strike her on her arms. He then left the room and came back with a wooden stick, which he used to strike KH’s buttocks. When her nose began to bleed, HDH ordered her to wash her face and clean up the blood in the bathroom. She suffered bruising to her wrist and buttocks and found it difficult to sleep."
Keywords: hand, wooden stick and hairbrush — 11-year-old daughter — nose bleed
R v BO, 2020 CanLII 103005 (NL PC), per Gorman J NL PC Absolute Discharge "Mr. BO’s fifteen year old son (X) was getting into trouble at school. On February 13, 2020, he was suspended and sent home. When he arrived home, Mr. O, as a form of discipline, required X to shovel snow off the back deck of their residence. X began to do so, but refused to complete the shoveling and came inside. Mr. O grabbed X by his jacket and took him downstairs to complete the shoveling. He then released his grip on his son’s jacket."
Keywords: 15-year-old son
R v Espina, 2020 ONSC 6342 (CanLII), per Croll J ON SC Absolute Discharge The sentencing judge jumped the joint recommendation and imposed a suspended sentence. The appellate court reversed the sentence and imposed the joint recommendation.
Keywords: appeal — 9-year-old son — broomstick — joint recommendation
R v RP, 2020 NLSC 9 (CanLII), per Furey J NL SC 8 months CSO "the offender was convicted of three counts of assault... . Two of the assaults were against his ex-wife and the other was against his eight-year-old son (MP). Mr. Justice Furey described the latter assault in the following manner...

M.P. was helping to pack up wood with other members of his family. He took a break and went in the house. R.P. came in after him, pulled down his pants, and smacked his bum. R.P. then pulled M.P. by the ear out into the driveway.

R v Martell/PCM, 2020 SKQB 118 (CanLII), per Zerr J SK PC 12 month suspended Mother "grabbed him by the throat with both hands and threw him to the floor. Then she went into the bathroom." Appealed from discharge decision (2019 SKPC 11)
Keywords: 11-year-old son — guilty plea
R v JRP, 2019 NSPC 43 (CanLII), per Begin J NS PC 90 days intermittent Father struck son twice.
R v Rothery, 2018 ONSC 7338 (CanLII), per Mew J ON SC
Keywords: brain injury — aggravated assault — infant
R v RGB, 2017 ABCA 359 (CanLII), per curiam AB CA 2 years less a day imprisonment The offender was intoxicated and hit a 1 year old child in his custody.
R v Rochon-frosk, 2017 MBPC 14 (CanLII), per Martin J MB PC 6 years imprisonment The offender pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and failure to provide necessities of life.
R v Berg, 2017 SKPC 11 (CanLII), per Kovatch J SK PC CSO " a younger offender with mental health problems was granted a three-month conditional sentence followed by probation for one year after being found guilty for assault causing bodily harm to his infant daughter by striking her with a video game controller unit, which resulted in severe bruising. The Court surveyed a number of similar cases where conditional sentences were imposed." [1]
R v TDT, 2017 ABPC 119 (CanLII), per Pharo J AB PC 12 month CSO "the offender slapped his nine-year-old step-daughter's face with an open hand with sufficient force to chip or break her front tooth, the Court imposed a 12-month conditional sentence. The offender had no criminal record, had experienced childhood trauma, was involved in the community and had taken counselling in relation to the offence."
Keywords: 9-year-old girl — chipped tooth — no record
R v FP, , [2017 N.J. No. 22 (P.C.)] NL PC 3 months imprisonment "the accused was convicted of a assaulting his spouse and their seven-year-old daughter. During an argument, the accused pushed his spouse several times until she fell to the floor. While she was on the floor, he got on top of her and pushed her head and shoulders against the floor several times. When their daughter threatened to call 911, he grabbed her and pushed her to the floor. I imposed a period of four months of incarceration. This included a period of three months of incarceration for the assault upon his daughter."
R v Morgan, 2016 CanLII 60965 (NL PC), per Joy J NL PC 2 months CSO "the accused was a child care worker. She grabbed an 18-month-old child’s face, to keep her still while changing her diaper. This resulted in bruises to the child’s face, which the accused attempted to cover up with make up."[2]
Keywords: 18-month hold child — bruising — child care worker
R v Laberee, 2016 ABPC 116 (CanLII) AB PC conditional discharge
Keywords: self-defence teacher — teenage students
R v BHM, 2016 ABQB 622 (CanLII), per Yamauchi J AB QB suspended 12 months
R v JB, 2016 ONCJ 312 (CanLII) ON CJ 6 month CSO "the offender pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm after fracturing his three-year-old son's arm. The Court was not concerned about specific deterrence in that case, but rather with general deterrence and denunciation."
R v Welyhorski, 2016 CanLII 46298 (NL SC), per Thompson J NL SC 16 monnths CSO
R v Morgan, , [2016 N.J. No. 313 (P.C.)], per Joy J NL PC 2 months CSO + probation 1 year "the accused pleaded guilty to assaulting an eighteen month old child she was caring for as a paid child care worker. The accused assaulted the child by holding the child's face while she was changing the child's diaper. The child, as a result, suffered bruises to her face. The accused had no prior convictions."
R v Olatona, 2015 ABPC 222 (CanLII), per Van Harten J AB PC absolute discharge "His father used a computer or electrical cord to beat the boys on their arms."
Keywords: sons aged 8 and 13 — guilty plea
R v Bowden, 2015 NSPC 13 (CanLII), per Derrick J NS PC 8 months imprisonment, 2 years probation "the offender pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm for life-threatening head injuries to his six-week old son, ... Denunciation and deterrence were the primary considerations taken into account by the Court, but rehabilitation was also addressed through the probation order."[3]
Keywords: 6-year-old son — CBH
R v JI, , [2015 A.J. No. 942 (P.C.)], per McDonald J AB PC suspended "the offender was convicted of assaulting one of her foster children by “squeezing” the child's face “with her hand to facilitate opening the…child's mouth to make her eat and to get her to brush her teeth.” The child was two and one-half years of age and the assault caused bruising to the child’s face. Judge McDonald declined to endorse a joint submission seeking a discharge and instead suspended sentence and placed the offender on probation."
R v RSW, 2015 NLTD(G) 31, per Mennie J NL SC 4 months CSO "convicted of assaulting his son and daughter. ...

Mr. R.S.W. assaulted R.W.W. by slapping him in the arm and head on more than one occasion. I also accept that Mr. R.S.W. pushed R.W.W. onto the bed. I am satisfied as well that Mr. R.S.W. assaulted his daughter by slapping her in the arm and in the head on more than one occasion."

R v H, 2014 BCSC 600 (CanLII), per Baird J BC SC 2 years imprisonment + 3 years probation brain injury on 7-month old son.
R v DW, 2014 BCPC 36 (CanLII), per Woods J BC PC Conditional Discharge "the Court granted a conditional discharge to an offender who struck his daughter on the head with an open palm and on her clothed buttocks with a belt, leaving bruises on her lower back. Mitigating factors included a guilty plea at an early stage, a lack of criminal record, remorse and significant post-charge rehabilitative efforts."[4]
Keywords: 11-year-old daughter
R v P(V), 2014 ONCJ 235 (CanLII), per Kenkel J ON PC Conditional Discharge "the offender struck her child in the nose, drawing blood, while the offender was drinking alcohol. The offender had pleaded guilty on the second day of trial and completed substance abuse counselling. The offender had a prior finding of guilt for assaulting her mother. There was a joint submission where the Crown and defence both proposed a discharge, although the Crown sought a conditional discharge and the defence position sought an absolute discharge. The Court recognized the significance of joint submissions. It imposed a conditional discharge but noted as follows at para. 7: “But for the joint submission, I would have thought that denunciation and deterrence require a finding of guilt for a second offence of violence in a domestic context, particularly where the offence was in relation to a child.”" [5]
Keywords: joint recommendation
R v Tremblay, 2013 BCPC 38 (CanLII), per Chen J BC PC 15 days imprisonment Offender was a hockey coach of an under 14 year old team, he berated two players during a match and then tripped two of them during the ceremonial handshake. Offender had a prior discharge for assault that was recent.
R v GD, 2013 BCSC 2463 (CanLII), per Tindale J BC SC 18 month CSO + probation "[T]he accused was convicted of six counts of assault on his various children. There were numerous incidents."
R v DM, 2012 ONCJ 478 (CanLII), per Lalande J ON PC 12 months imprisonment
R v Gallant, 2012 CanLII 21016 (NL PC), per Gorman J NL PC 3 months imprisonment "Mr. Gallant struck a young boy in the face and then kicked him while he was on the ground in an attempt to collect monies owed. This caused injury and resulted in blood-letting."
Keywords: 14-year-old boy — criminal record
R v C(YJ), 2012 ONCJ 25 (CanLII), per Harris J ON PC Conditional Discharge assault of 10 year old son; immigration implications of criminal record
R v CGO, 2012 BCCA 129 (CanLII), per Bennett JA BC CA 2 years less a day CSO "was a sentencing that took place in the context of a First Nations court where the sentencing process is called the “Healing Plan”. The offender pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and failing to provide necessaries of life in relation to her three year old niece for offences that took place in October 2007, when conditional sentence orders were available. The offender shook the child out of frustration, then placed her in a scalding bath which caused extensive burns to her entire body. She later shook the child a second time to wake her up. She was not taken to the hospital until three days later where she was found to have severe head injury and extensive burning which caused devastating and life-long sequelae to the child who had lost all mobility and speech permanently, requiring twenty-four hours specialized care and frequent medical intervention. The aboriginal offender had no prior criminal record but presented with significant Gladue factors. The court imposed a two year less a day conditional sentence order followed by three years of supervised probation. The Court of Appeal dismissed the sentence appeal, the majority finding that while it was not a fit sentence, it should not be interfered with given the Gladue factors and the support system that had been put in place to advance the offender’s rehabilitation." [6]
R v EH, , [2012 N.J. No. 277 (P.C.)], per Gorman J NL PC 4 months imprisonment "the offender assaulted two of his children. He struck one of them in the stomach and struck and locked the other one in a room. "
R v SD, , [2012 N.J. No. 277 (P.C.)] NL PC suspended 18 months (JR) "the offender pleaded guilty to assaulting his two sons. I noted that “[o]ver a two year period, Mr. SD assaulted his two sons by shaking, kicking, pushing and holding them against walls”."
Keywords: joint recommendation
R v Prosper, , [2012 N.J. No. 321 (P.C.)] NL PC discharge "the accused pleaded guilty to assaulting her four-year-old daughter. On December 7, 2011, the police received a complaint from a day care centre in Corner Brook. An employee at the centre had noticed red marks on the back of Ms. Prosper's daughter. Ms. Prosper was subsequently interviewed and admitted to causing these marks. She indicated that she had struck her child out of frustration. I imposed a conditional discharge with probation for twelve months. I concluded that “[t]hough section 718.01 of the Criminal Code requires that I place my primary emphasis in sentencing on deterrence and denunciation, I am satisfied that this is an appropriate case for the imposition of a conditional discharge because this case also requires restraint; emphasis upon rehabilitation through counseling; and the encouraging of Ms. Prosper to continue to improve her circumstances for the benefit of herself and her child. I am satisfied that what occurred here was an isolated incident which does not form part of any ongoing abuse of the child. I am satisfied that it is in the best interests of Ms. Prosper for a discharge to be granted. I am also satisfied that when the entire circumstances of the offence and Ms. Prosper's personal circumstances are considered that it would not be contrary to the public interest to grant a discharge in this specific case” (at paragraph 31)."
R v Nickel, 2012 ABCA 158 (CanLII) AB CA
R v Harris, 2011 ABCA 41 (CanLII), per McDonald JA AB CA 9 months imprisonment
R v Randell, 2011 CanLII 57525 (NL PC), per Gorman J NL PC Suspended Sentence, 12 months punch to child; struggle; dated prior record
R v JB, [2011] NJ No 164 (P.C.)(*no CanLII links) NL 14 days imprisonment The offender assaulted his wife and 6-year-old daughter while on conditions to have no contact. He "grabbing her upper arms, lifting her off of the floor and slamming her against a wall."
R v JTR, [2011] NJ No 339 (PC)(*no CanLII links) NL PC Suspended Sentence "The offender assaulted his thirteen-year-old son by punching him on the right side of the neck near his collarbone with a closed hand and caused him to fall down a set of stairs."
Keywords: 13-year-old son — guilty plea
R v Hardwood-Jones, 2010 MBQB 8 (CanLII), per Martin J MB SC 18 months imprisonment The offender was convicted of aggravated assault against a 4 month old child.
R v LEZ, 2010 ABPC 397 (CanLII), per Stevens-Guille J AB PC 3 days PTC "Stevens-Guille PCJ convicted the accused persons of assault when the father held the legs of his fourteen-year old daughter over her head to expose her buttocks, while the mother strapped the daughter with a belt at least 3 times. The parents showed no remorse. His Honour found that the use of the belt was an aggravating factor. He sentenced the accused persons to time spent in jail (3 days)."[7]
Keywords: 14-year old daughter — spanking
R v Osmond, [2010 N.J. No. 125] NL PC 15 months CSO "In November of 2008, Mr. Osmond brought his son to his grandparents' residence for a visit. When they were getting ready to leave, B was slow in responding to the request to get ready to leave, as he had become interested in a movie he was watching. In response to this delay, Mr. Osmond walked over to B and slapped him across the face, causing B to cry. ...[on a different date] B had the flu. This caused him difficulty in swallowing. While he was trying to eat some food, he had trouble swallowing it. In response to this difficulty, Mr. Osmond placed one of his hands across B's mouth while placing the other one under his chin. Mr. Osmond forced B's chin upward causing his mouth to close. He then told B that if he did not swallow the food in his mouth he would force it down his throat. B's grandmother, who was present, told Mr. Osmond to stop. Mr. Osmond did so."
Keywords: 6-year-old son — guilty plea — joint recommendation
R v Samms,
2010 CanLII 31277 (NL PC), [2010] NJ No 202 (P.C.), per Gorman J
NL PC 6 mo CSO
R v Sharpe, 2010 ABQB 576 (CanLII), per Burrows J AB SC 2 years less a day CSO "a 33 year old offender with no prior record committed an aggravated assault against his seven month old infant by throwing him into the air three or four times on one occasion causing him to suffer an acceleration-deceleration type injury. The offender did not intend to injure the infant. At the time of the sentencing, the infant was reported to be doing well. The offender was of low to average intelligence with a significant history of childhood instability. He was a medium risk to re-offend. Although the offender immediately contacted the mother of the infant to advise of the infant’s symptoms, he did not acknowledge his actions until a week after the incident when he was interviewed by the police. Crown counsel submitted that a sentence of three years incarceration was appropriate. The court imposed a sentence of two years less a day conditional sentence order, acknowledging that although assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault offences against children call for primary sentencing objectives of denunciation and deterrence, this particular offender did not need to be incarcerated to accomplish those purposes. The Evans approach is not specifically mentioned but the case law endorsing it is referred to. It is also noteworthy that the date of the offence was in 2007 when conditional sentence orders were still available." [8]
R v Eggett, 2010 ONCJ 513 (CanLII), per Green J ON PC 30 days CSO + probation 18 months "the accused person pled guilty to the offence of assault with a weapon. The accused person struck her 7-year old child with a belt 5 times, that left a welt on the child’s leg. She had no prior convictions. This was the result of the child setting fires in their house." [9]
R v Stacey,
2009 CanLII 51222 (NL PC), [2009] NJ No 257 (P.C.), per Porter J
NL PC 6 months imprisonment "The accused and Gary Edwards and the complainant's mother, Ms. M., were drinking in the complainant's home when the complainant asked his mother for money to go to the shop. An argument ensued between the boy and his mother. The accused intervened, and the boy told the accused to mind his own business. Then the accused assaulted the boy. The assault included the use of a choke hold on the complainant, causing the boy's face to turn blue. Gary Edwards intervened, and physically took the accused off of the complainant, following which the boy ran, crying, out of the apartment. He called the police from a hiding place in the woods."
Keywords: choke hold — 16 year old son — lengthy record
R v Lawrence,
2009 CarswellOnt 5076, [2009 OJ No 3572 (Sup Ct Just)], {{{4}}}
ON SC "the accused person struck his thirteen-year old daughter with a belt. He pled guilty to assault with a weapon. The accused person’s employer sang his praises, he had no criminal record, and he had a good pre-sentence report. The family, including the victim, supported him. The trial judge would not grant a conditional discharge because the accused person used a belt. He was given a suspended sentence and was placed on probation for 9 months. Hill J dismissed the appeal, as he found “[t]he objectives of deterrence and denunciation would not be adequately served by the imposition of a discharge.”"
R v DGF,
2007 ABPC 285 (CanLII), {{{4}}}, per Barley J
AB PC 90 day CSO "[T]he accused assaulted his 11 year old son. ... He grabbed the son by the hair and dragged him to an adjacent room. He hit him numerous times with a leather belt, and while the son was on the ground, kicked him. He also pushed his face into a snow bank. "
R v DED,
2007 ABQB 508 (CanLII), {{{4}}}, per Rooke J
AB SC conditional discharge
Keywords: 16-year-old daughter
R v McCauley, 2007 CanLII 13937 (ON SC), per Hill J ON SC 12 months imprisonment The offender was convicted of aggravated assault against her infant child.
R v MJS, 2006 ABCA 176 (CanLII), per Fruman JA AB CA 18 months imprisonment A "32 year old offender assaulted his three month old son causing him bodily harm by breaking his ribs on twelve occasions and breaking his legs over a period of three months. The offender accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed remorse. The offender’s actions were unintentional and due to a lack of parenting skills and ignorance about appropriate treatment of a child of that age. The offender came before the court having suffered trauma in his childhood due to sexual victimization. He had anger management difficulties. He was assessed as a low to moderate risk to reoffend. The Alberta Court of Appeal reduced the sentence of two years less a day to eighteen months given the sentencing judge’s error as to the characterization of the motivation behind that assault. The Alberta Court of Appeal noted that while the offender’s conduct was repeated over the span of two months there was no element of punitive violence or inappropriate discipline and no actual intention or foresight by the accused as to the possible consequences of his actions. In this case, the Court of Appeal endorsed the sentencing judge’s use of the Evans approach. Its endorsement was overturned in Nickel."
Keywords: 3-month-old son — CBH — breaking ribs
R v JFC,
2006 NSSC 33 (CanLII), 240 NSR (2d) 315, per Cacchione J
NS SC discharge
Keywords: assault with weapon — 8-year-old son
R v DPJ, 2004 BCSC 1774 (CanLII), per Truscott J BC SC 3 months CSO + probation The "accused assaulted his six year old daughter on three separate occasions by striking her with a plastic coat hanger."
R v DP, [2004] NJ No 38 (P.C.)(*no CanLII links) NL PC Suspended Sentence
R v WL, [2004] NJ No 44 (P.C.)(*no CanLII links) NL PC 60 days imprisonment "the accused, after an argument with his spouse, threw his step-son down a set of stairs and caused considerable damage to the residence. Judge Porter imposed a period of sixty days incarceration for the assault offence." [10]
R v Bourgeois, 2001 ABPC 155 (CanLII), per Stevenson J AB PC 4 years imprisonment "a 21 year old accused, with a previous record for anger-related convictions, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for having kneed a three year old child in the stomach several times to stop him from crying. The accused did nothing to address the child’s injuries until the child’s mother returned home. The child suffered a partially collapse lung, inflamed pancreas, damage to the bowel, severe abdominal bruising, as well as bruises to the face, arm, chest and back. The accused was sentenced to four years imprisonment. He had suffered a dysfunctional upbringing which resulted in psychological and psychiatric problems. He was assessed as a low risk to re-offend. The court did not apply the Evans approach." [11]
R v AM, 2000 BCSC 803 (CanLII), per Hood J BC SC "A 25 year old male accused “inflicted numerous blows to a four-year-old child’s face and neck area.”"
R v O'Brien, 2000 BCCA 199 (CanLII), per Ryan JA BC CA "The 22 year old male accused with no record pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing bodily harm. Though he admitted the elements of the offence, it took a contested sentence hearing to determine the facts. The accused contended that he intentionally dropped the 11 month old child he was babysitting. However, the learned sentencing judge who heard the evidence, found that the accused “had thrown, pushed or swung the child’s head into a wall or other object with great force.” At the time of sentencing, although the child “appeared to be bright and happy, the medical prognosis given by his doctors was guarded.”" [12]
R v Habib, 2000 CanLII 16824 (ON CA), per curiam ON CA Template:2YLDCSO "the offender received a two year less a day conditional sentence order followed by three years probation for having committed an aggravated assault against an eighteen month old baby. The baby suffered brain injury, a skull fracture and serious injuries to her eyes as a result of what was known as shaken baby syndrome. The Court of Appeal noted that the appropriate sentence range for an aggravated assault conviction involving shaken baby syndrome was between three to five years, but that in rare or exceptional cases a two year less a day conditional sentence order could be appropriate. The Court of Appeal found this to be a rare exceptional case given the lack of prior record of the offender, the glowing pre-sentence report, the immediate actions taken by the offender when it became apparent that the child needed medical attention and the significant recovery by the child from her injuries. The court did not apply the Evans approach."
R v Burke,
1996 CanLII 11083 (NL CA), [1996] NJ No 179 (CA), per Gushue CJ
NS CA discharge assaulted child at orphanage, appeal from 1 month sentence.
R v Evans,
1996 CanLII 19983 (AB CJ), 182 A.R. 21, per Gilbert J
AB PC 6 months imprisonment "The 25 year old male accused was caring for his two month old daughter. He became angry when the child had trouble feeding. He shook her severely, and dropped her into her crib. As a result of the shaking, the child suffered a subdural haematoma. At the time of sentencing, the child’s prognosis was uncertain in that the doctors could not predict how the injury would affect her in later life. The child also suffered a fractured right arm." [13]
R v WF,
1994 CanLII 6457 (NB CA), , per curiam
NB CA time served Accused put handcuffs on a teenager who was then sexually assaulted by a co-accused.
R v Serack,
1994 CanLII 18379 (AB CJ), 25 WCB (2d) 286, per Daniel J
AB PC 60 days + probation "the accused assaulted his 4-year-old son. He had relatives at his house for a social evening, and sent his children to bed around 9:30 a.m. His eldest son, however, did not listen to him. The father told him to return to bed the first time, spanked him two or three times outside his pyjamas the second time, spanked him three to five times on his bare buttocks the third time, and on the fourth occasion, he struck his son "hard" twice with his belt with sufficient force to leave welt marks that "were still very red and visible" two or three days later (para. 1 and 2). ...The accused, prior to this incident, had sole custody of his two sons for two years. He lost custody of them as a result of the crime, but hoped to regain custody. He had a criminal record that included a recent assault conviction. He was raised in a physically abusive home, and, during his own marriage, he and his wife abused alcohol and they were both physically abusive to one another. The children were, however, never the victims of that violence, except perhaps as witnesses." [14]
R v EGP,
1994 ABCA 76 (CanLII), 149 AR 238, per Shannon JA
AB CA 18 months imprisonment assault causing bodily harm
R v M(AR),
NSCA 102 (CanLII) 119 N.S.R. (2d) 444, {{{4}}}
NS CA 8 months imprisonment "“The injuries suffered by the infant at the hands of the respondents included multiple fractures of the femur, fractures of the fourth and ninth ribs, and bruises on the buttocks and over the eye. At the time of the medical examination which led to these charges, the broken leg appeared to be a recent injury while the fractured ribs were thought to be approximately three weeks old which indicates that the infant was subjected to at least two incidents of severe trauma.”
Keywords: 3-month-old girl
R v Eskritt,
1985 ABCA 188 (CanLII), 63 AR 230 (Alta. C.A.), per Kerans J
AB CA 18 months imprisonment "The accused was on probation for violently shaking a child. Two years later, he committed the same offence with a second child (this time, his 3 month old daughter). The shaking last only a few seconds, and, like the first offence, resulted from a fit of temper. The child might have died, and did suffer convulsions. At the time of sentencing, it was not clear if the child had suffered brain damage. " [15]