Kirkcaldy man’s horror assault left baby blind and brain damaged

High Court
High Court

A Kirkcaldy man has been found guilty of a horrific assault on a three-month old baby which left the infant blind and brain damaged.

John Dobbie (36), who fractured the child’s skull by repeatedly striking his head against a hard surface, claimed he had been “shoogling” him to stop him crying.

A worker at Victoria Hospital, who saw the child when Dobbie brought him in on the day of the incident, said: “I have seen a cot death baby that looked better than that little boy did.”

Dobbie had denied attempting to murder the three-month-old boy on June 5, 2011 at his home in Overton Mains but was found guilty by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The court heard that the child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, now suffers from cerebral palsy affecting his whole body.

He has a limited range of movement and will never be independently mobile.

He will be dependent on carers for the rest of his life.

Staff nurse Jacqueline Keir told Dobbie’s trial: “I initially thought the baby was dead when I first saw it just because it was so lifeless and still and the colour.”

She said the baby started crying when she moved his hand. “It sounded to me like the baby was in pain.”

A few days earlier, a health visitor reported the baby as being “bright and alert”.

The child was transferred by ambulance to another Fife hospital where consultant paediatrician John Morrice noted bruising on the child’s torso and small, pin prick bruises on other areas such as the top of the head.

He said the priority was to keep the baby alive, to resuscitate and stabilise him.

He told the court: “He had life-threatening injuries.”

The child later underwent neurosurgery at Yorkhill children’s hospital, Glasgow.

Detective Constable Kim Stuart said Dingwall-born Dobbie had told him he had earlier fed the baby and changed his nappy and did not notice any marks on his body.

Jobless Dobbie said he had needed to go to the toilet and put the child in an upright position but when he returned found he had slipped onto his side and his head was resting on a plastic phone toy.

Dobbie said the child was crying and he picked him up and noticed a red mark. He said he was shoogling the child.

He noticed the baby’s eyes were rolling back. He took the baby to its mother and she told him to phone a taxi and take him to hospital.

But jurors heard that expert evidence pointed to the baby suffering violent shaking and direct impact to his head.

The judge, Lord Armstrong, deferred sentence on Dobbie for the preparation of a background report.

Dobbie, who has been on bail up until now, was remanded in custody.

He was convicted of assaulting the baby to his severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life.