A BAD-tempered father who swung his baby upside down and shook her so violently that she suffered severe brain damage is behind bars for two-and-a-half years.

A Crown Court judge allowed the child to be identified following legal representations on behalf of the Lancashire Evening Telegraph because he wanted the case to serve as a warning to others about the dangers of shaking children.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Courtney Boden, although born prematurely and with a hole in the heart, was normal and not difficult child.

Today, aged about 20 months, she also suffers from epilepsy, has considerable problems feeding and will have long-term disability after three episodes of ill-treatment at the hands of her 28-year-old father, Christopher.

Sentencing Boden, who had claimed he had tried to revive the infant after she had gone floppy, Judge Raymond Bennett said the child's life was ruined.

He said: "You will be punished in terms of years. She will live with the injury for the rest of her life."

The judge stressed the message must go out that shaking a young child was a very, very dangerous thing to do and sometimes resulted in death, although mercifully it was not the case with Courtney. He decided the child, who was also found to have broken bones when she was taken to hospital, could be named after a press objection to her identity being withheld and said he wanted the public to learn from the case.

Boden, of Hibson Road, Nelson, and formerly of Colne Road, Kelbrook, admitted cruelty to a child, between August and November, 1998, when Courtney was between two and five months old. Gavin McBride, prosecuting, said on November 14, 1998, Boden had been looking after the baby overnight, whilst his partner was at work. He phoned his girlfriend to say Courtney was unwell and when the mother returned home, she found the baby pale, with a purple tinge to her face, swelling and bulging. The child was taken to hospital.

The mother recalled another incident, when Boden had taken the child out and Courtney had come home with redness to the side of her face and swelling about the same area.

Boden told his partner he had run in the rain with the baby in her car seat at a petrol station and the youngster's head had banged from side to side. The mother also remembered another time when the defendant was alone in a bedroom with Courtney and she had heard her scream and cry.

At the hospital, Courtney was found to have a healing rib, a fractured bone in her arm and an old bone injury to her shin and a doctor concluded the baby had suffered injury on at least two, possibly three, occasions.

Asked about the fractures, the defendant admitted he wasn't used to handling Courtney, he had let her head slip out of his hand and swung the screaming child upside down for a couple of seconds.

On the night he was looking after the infant, Boden said he had squeezed her quite tightly around the waist so as not to drop her and had heard a crack. He thought it could have been his joint.

The baby was screaming, he had bounced her erratically in her chair and she seemed to go floppy and moan. The defendant said he was shocked and upset, knew something was wrong and lost his temper for a moment.

Dennis Watson, defending, said Boden had no previous convictions. It would probably never be known precisely what went on, but what was known was that, tragically, Courtney was severely brain damaged.

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