A young father who inflicted brain injury when he shook his 10-week-old son was sentenced Tuesday to 15 months in jail and 12 months probation.
Russell Smith, 26, pleaded guilty in January in Court of Queen's Bench to aggravated assault upon his infant son on Feb. 9, 2009, in Saskatoon.
Smith was caring for the baby at the time of the incident and didn't tell his wife what happened, Crown prosecutor Val Adamko said, reading from an agreed statement of facts.
Five days later the couple took the baby to the emergency room at Royal University Hospital, where Smith suggested the baby was injured when his 16-month-old sister fell on him.
The baby boy had retinal hemorrhage, a chest X-ray revealed five fractured ribs and a CT scan showed significant subdural bleeding in the brain.
A physician recognized the classic symptoms of shaken baby syndrome and notified police.
In a videotaped statement, Smith originally held to his story but eventually broke down and admitted he had shaken the baby.
"I was so tired. I shook him. Afterwards I felt so bad. I cuddled him. I can't believe I did this," Adamko quoted Smith saying.
Smith said he didn't feel he could tell his wife what he'd done because he didn't want her to think he was a bad parent, Adamko said.
A recent assessment shows the baby is healing but it is too soon to say whether he will have lasting effects.
The baby is at high risk for learning disabilities, impulsivity and memory problems, a medical report shows.
Smith was ordered to provide a DNA sample for the national data bank and is prohibited from possessing firearms for 10 years after he is released.
He was also ordered to take counselling and anger management while on probation.
Smith and his wife broke up after the injuries came to light and he has not seen the children since then, said defence lawyer Dwayne Braun.
The mother is willing to allow Smith to have contact with his children in the future, Braun said.
An approved family services worker or Smith's probation officer will determine when he is ready to have contact with the children again, Justice Robert Laing said.
Smith had no criminal record before or since the incident and pleaded guilty rather than fighting the charge at trial, but denunciation and deterrence are primary sentencing principles in such a case, Braun acknowledged.