A 29-year-old father has been jailed for 26 months after fracturing his baby daughter’s skull by slamming her head on a worktop during a feed.
Lucy Bearman, 31, came down one morning to see her baby daughter crying in an unusual way and noticed a lump on the side of the tot’s head.
Her husband, Robin Bearman, a teacher, 29, was sobbing uncontrollably and said that he had accidentally caught the baby’s head with a cupboard door.
But a medical examination showed that she had a fractured skull and had a severe bleed on the brain.
Later, Bearman admitted he slammed his daughter’s head on a worktop twice out of frustration and was jailed yesterday for GBH.
Speaking after the hearing, Lucy said: ‘I wanted nothing more for my girls than a safe and loving father. The day it happened things had never been better.
‘We were a happy family. I still don’t know why it happened and why he told me those lies. He destroyed everything.’
The defendant, from Ilfracombe, Devon, admitted causing grievous bodily harm but was cleared by a jury of the more serious charge of GBH with intent.
He was given a two year and two month prison sentence by a judge at Exeter Crown Court.
The pair were married in 2014 and right from the outset Lucy said she was aware that sometimes her husband told lies.
But by June 2017 she felt the pair had overcome any doubts that they would stay together, and Bearman showed no flashes of violence.
They became the perfect team, sharing feeding duties with the child – and at 6am one morning Bearman got up to give the little girl a feed.
But he couldn’t cope with the crying and snapped, shaking the baby violently and hitting her head on the counter twice, causing two skull fractures and a serious bleed on the brain.
Despite his guilt, Bearman concocted a story about how the injury was sustained, saying that he had banged the baby’s head by accident while opening a cupboard.
Lucy added: ‘My thoughts were that it was not a massively obvious lump.
‘I would have driven her to hospital, my initial feeling was that calling 999 was a massive overreaction to what was in front of me.
‘Initially I had a sense of confusion about what had happened.
‘He acted it out. For months he acted it out, over and over again every time he was asked what had happened.
‘When you are with someone and spend your time with them for so long and you are in a solid relationship it’s very hard not to believe them.’
Following the incident, the baby needed intensive care treatment at Bristol Children’s Hospital.
By October, doctors were convinced somebody was not telling the truth as they said the two fractures could not have been caused by the cupboard door.
For more than six months, Lucy was only allowed supervised contact with her children as social services could not be sure who had caused the injuries.
Then, she started to notice changes in her husband’s behavior.
She continued: ‘He was different to me.
‘I wasn’t eating or drinking out of fear for my daughter. I was absolutely distraught. But he was fine, drinking and laughing. He wasn’t celebrating but he was normal.
‘I was thinking ‘your three week old daughter has suffered a massive head injury what on earth is wrong with this man?
‘I knew I hadn’t done it and was thinking what could have possibly caused this?’
The pair split soon after and by January 2018 were at the centre of a Family Court hearing.
Bearman then invented a second lie in which he said he dropped the baby and she hit her head on his knee when he stuck it out to break her fall.
Then, on the third day he told the truth – that he was responsible for injuring his own daughter.
‘My initial feeling was one of relief,’ says Lucy.
‘The main thing was I had got my children back. Up until that point I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
‘I texted (Bearman) on the second day and said ‘if there is anything you have to say it now otherwise I’m going to lose my children’.’
For more than six months Lucy had been faced with the prospect of losing custody of her children.
She was only allowed to accompany her eldest daughter to her first day at school with her own parents present.
She missed her youngest being immunised and other important events.
‘I was permitted to dip in and out of their lives,’ she said. ‘I had to make appointments. There were milestones in their lives that I missed and will never get back.’
It was another 18 months before the court case which led to Bearman’s conviction.
The 31-year-old added: ‘He was never arrested. He was told of the prosecution by postal requisition.
‘The result, as I understand it, was that he was not given bail conditions to stay away. One day he turned up on the doorstep.’
Bearman is now banned from seeing his ex-wife and children for five years, and he will serve half of his two year and two month sentence in prison and the rest on license.
She said: ‘I think the judge was really fair. I always said whatever happens with the sentence will be the right thing.
‘I had to place my trust and faith in the judge and the process. The family court judge was the one who gave me my children back and said she believed my evidence fully.’
Lucy, who has worked in the criminal justice system delivering rehabilitation programmes to offenders, says she wants her ex to be rehabilitated.
She said: ‘My hope is that whatever happens in those 13 months in jail he gets some sort of rehabilitation and help.
‘If he is going to come out looking for contact I want that to be safe, it’s got to be. My idea of the criminal justice system is that it should make people better.
‘Everybody deserves an opportunity to change something about themselves. Whether it can be done in this case or not is not, I’m not qualified to say.’
Her daughter still suffers from a mis-shaped skull and is behind normal age targets for speech and hearing.
She was so young when it happened that her medical problems cannot be directly linked with certainty to her father’s actions.
Reading a victim personal statement in court Lucy fought back the tears as she told the judge about her fears for the future.
She said: ‘I worry about the emotional impact as she grows older and understands what happened to her. For me it was devastating.
‘It is hard to put into words how betrayed I feel by Robin. I was considered a suspect and the financial burden was immense at a time when I was a student.
‘He has a new partner and says he’s happier than he’s ever been.
‘I struggle with my self-confidence and blame myself. I suffer nightmares and anxiety. During my time without children I considered suicide.’
She believes her ex-husband has no real conception of the damage he has caused her.
‘Robin has never said sorry,’ she says.
‘In terms of putting my life back together today is a massive line in the sand and I will move forward, we all will.’