January 2019

Soldier who ‘brutally’ attacked baby causing brain-damage is jailed

A ‘smirking’ soldier who shook a three-month-old baby so hard it was left with severe brain damage was has been slammed by a judge for “ruining” the tot’s life.

Thomas Higgins, 21, was jailed for nearly a decade after the “brutal” attack in August 2018.

Higgins initially denied hurting the child when questioned by police.

But Higgins, of Maisemore in Yate, finally pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

Judge Mark Horton jailed him for nine years and nine months.

The judge told him: “Tragedy is simply too small a word to describe the consequences to that child or what you did to it*.

“This was a brutal attack on a three month old child.

“You have never provided any explanation of what you did to that child.

“You have stolen the possibility of anything approaching a normal or significant life.”

Higgins, who was a soldier since leaving school and served in the Tank Regiment, was to be dishonourably discharged from the service after sentence, the court heard.

Ian Fenny, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court when the baby was taken to Bristol Children’s Hospital it had its arms up and fists clenched.

Doctors diagnosed a severe brain injury, a displaced fracture to the left femur, a collapsed lung, retinal hemorrhages to both eyes and bruising to the baby’s shoulder, neck, jaw, spine and head.

Medics concluded the injuries were non-accidental and the baby was subjected to severe shaking and uncontrolled force.

The injuries are life-changing and they are still very poorly and in need of ongoing medical attention.

Mr Fenny said: “It must have been pretty savage and pretty brutal.”

Mr Fenny said the tot received life-changing injuries including permanent brain damage.

He told the court: “The child is most certainly not out of the woods.

“Their life has been wrecked by the assault.

“Their life is still not safe because of the injuries.”

Police called in interviewed Higgins and he denied wrongdoing.

He went on to accept an “explosion of emotions” before going no comment, the court heard.

He denied being under the influence of drink or drugs and there was no evidence he was suffering from mental illness.