Update: Ben Powell-pepper served just 18 months of his three year sentence. Now living on the Littledale Estate in Sheffield

February 2014

Sheffield dad jailed for shaking baby

A Sheffield dad who left his eight-week-old son with life-threatening head injuries after shaking him has been jailed.

The baby was admitted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital with bleeding on the brain, along with a fractured rib from an earlier assault.

Doctors assessing the infant said the injuries must have been the result of ‘considerable force’ being used.

Dr Noreen West, a consultant paediatrician, said bleeding on the brain and behind the baby’s eyes had been caused by a ‘rapid head movement or violent shaking’.

The rib fracture was caused by ‘squeezing of the chest wall with some force’ some weeks earlier.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the baby’s 28-year-old father Ben Powell-pepper lied about causing his son’s injuries.

He told police he was under pressure because he had lost his job, but denied having shaken his son or losing control.

He later wrote police a five-page document confessing, saying he found it difficult to bond with his son.

Reading the dad’s statement to the court, Ben Campbell, prosecuting, said: “On one occasion, the child had been screaming really loud and wouldn’t stop. I held him in my hands, around his ribs and shouted at him ‘what do you want’. I think I put too much pressure on his ribs.”

Speaking about the second attack, the dad said: “He was screaming and I moved from room to room trying to settle him.

“He started again and I just snapped for a split second and shook him. I said ‘why do you never settle’.

“After I did this he just stopped breathing and went lifeless. “I panicked and started to shout his name. I slapped his face, I started to shake him in sheer panic. I started CPR and got him breathing again.”

Mr Campbell said the ambulance service was called to the family home on May 1, 2013. They were told a two-month old baby was having difficulty breathing and was receiving CPR.

The child was rushed to hospital where he was found to be suffering from a life-threatening head injury.

Mr Campbell said doctors feared the baby, now a year old, could have suffered from ‘long term neurological injuries’.

But he survived his ordeal and was making ‘good progress’, although it was too early to tell whether or not there would be any permanent damage.

Ben Powell-pepper admitted two counts of cruelty to a person under 16.

Relatives wept in the public gallery as the judge told him only an immediate custodial sentence could be imposed.

Jailing him for three years, Judge Simon Lawler QC said: “Every parent faces frustrations in the care of young children, but this was a baby, your baby, helpless and defenceless and to vent frustration as you did when it’s so well known that even shaking for a few seconds can have serious consequences is quite unforgivable.”