Friday, February 26, 2010

"Really stressed" single dad pleads guilty in manslaughter death of 5-month-old son; had been "single dad" for only 1 month (Sydney, Australia)

Dad CLIFFORD GEORGE SHEPHERD was "really stressed" as a single dad. He obviously had no idea how to care for a baby, since somebody reported him to the authorities for mistreating the baby even before the fatal "incident." How messed up was this dad? Within 1 month of becoming a single dad, he managed to kill his infant son by a "blunt force head injury." The baby also had bruising and broken ribs. Seems Daddy Dearest threw the baby onto a bed.

Dad breaks down at hearing on baby death
February 26, 2010 - 3:44PM


When his girlfriend died, Clifford George Shepherd believed their baby son was "all I had".

But one month later the inexperienced and "really stressed" father tossed the crying infant onto a bed causing fatal "blunt force head injury".

"I miss him terribly," Shepherd said in a statement tendered at his NSW Supreme Court sentencing hearing on Friday.

The 35-year-old has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his five-month-old son, Jeremy, at a Minto house, in Sydney's southwest, in October 2006.

Justice Robert Allan Hulme has allowed the child's first name to be reported.

Giving evidence, Shepherd agreed some of Jeremy's injuries occurred within hours of his death while others were within days of the tragedy.

He accepted responsibility for all injuries, which included bruising and broken ribs.

Shepherd said he had wrongly believed he could look after Jeremy himself and only had himself to blame for his death.

"I think about it every night," he said, breaking down, before telling the judge he deserved to be punished.

He said he was "suspicious" of the Department of Community Services (DoCS) when he met with staff days before Jeremy's death and feared they would take the baby away.

Someone had reported him for hitting Jeremy too hard when patting him on the back to bring up wind.

He was allowed to continue caring for Jeremy on certain conditions, including taking him to a local doctor.

Jeremy's mother died on September 7, 2006, after suffering an asthma attack and falling into a coma due to complications associated with her drug use.

"After she died, I looked after Jeremy alone and I was really stressed," Shepherd said in his statement.

"I loved Jeremy and I was doing my best to look after him properly."

He admitted he had been feeling tired and frustrated when he picked up his crying son and tossed him onto the bed.

He now believed Jeremy's head must have hit the wooden bed head or a pillow partly covering it.

In his statement, Shepherd said he was 13 when he found his 16-year-old brother hanging in the shed.

"I tried to resuscitate him," he said.

"We'd been playing cricket earlier that day. I have never understood why he killed himself, and I get upset when I think about him."

His father left the family when he was two and his mother died when he was 16.

Ron Hoenig, for the crown, agreed Shepherd had a "horrendous background", noting he was ill-equipped to look after himself, let alone a child.

Nevertheless, he unlawfully threw the baby with such force that it caused significant damage to his brain.

Shepherd's barrister, Andrew Haesler SC, said that while the manslaughter involved a "high level of objective seriousness", it was in "the low range" of offences of this type.

He will be sentenced on March 5.