A Sydney father who murdered his newborn son by shaking him will spend at least 12 and a half years behind bars.
The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury of one count of murder earlier this year.
He was sentenced in the same court on Wednesday, where he learned he could spend a maximum of 18 years in prison.
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The court heard the infant’s mother left the nine-week-old baby and his toddler brother in the care of their father as she went to attend a medical appointment in June 2020.
However, on her way to the appointment, she realised she had forgotten her phone at home.
She returned to the home about 15-20 minutes later to find the newborn lifeless in his father’s arms.
She called 000, but a language barrier made it difficult, so she sought help from neighbours.
When asked by a neighbour what had happened, the infant’s father said: “I killed the baby”.
A neighbour rushed the newborn and his mother to hospital, where doctors resuscitated him.
But the damage to the boy’s brain was too severe and he died in hospital a month later, in July 2020, at about three months old.
An autopsy found the baby suffered catastrophic head injuries and fractures to both femurs.
“The offender was recklessly indifferent to the life of his son,” Justice Helen Wilson said.
The court heard the man had shaken his son on at least one occasion before the fatal incident, and had been warned by his wife that shaking their son in that way could kill him.
Other than his admissions immediately after the murder, the man has not acknowledged what happened, the court heard.
At trial, the man consistently lied to doctors about what happened to his son and sought to cast blame on his innocent wife for the child’s death.
A psychologist diagnosed him with having post-traumatic stress disorder and a major depressive disorder due to his upbringing in Afghanistan and what he went through to get to Australia, as well as the death of his son.
At the time of the fatal incident, Wilson said the offender, who worked two jobs, may have likely been tired, irritated and overwhelmed at having to care for both his children and likely “lost his temper” at his newborn baby, who might’ve been crying.
“It must’ve been apparent to the offender that his actions injured (the baby), but he did nothing for the baby,” she said.
Wilson said the baby’s death was a “tragic loss of life” that had caused “profound and enduring pain” to the child’s mother.
“That life, with all the possibility it held, was snuffed out in a few moments of reckless indifference by his father, who was meant to protect him,” she said.
“Every parent bears a responsibility for his or her child.
“The offender failed in that responsibility in the most fundamental way imaginable.”
Wilson made a finding of special circumstances due to the man’s mental health conditions and his isolation behind bars.
The man maintains his innocence and has not shown any remorse, however, his prospects for the future are “reasonably positive”, the judge said.
The man will be eligible for parole in February 2033.