A hung-over mum who snapped and lashed out at her friend’s crying baby has been jailed for nine years.
Theresa Smith smashed the 14-month-old baby boy in the eye so hard that she fractured the toddler’s eye socket in three places.
The judge who sent her to jail said that her actions were unforgiveable – and the court heard that she had become so depressed in the wake of the crime that she has tried to take her own life.
When the child’s mother came home after popping out for just 20 minutes to find her son bleeding from his nose and his eye puffing up, Smith claimed to have no idea what had happened to the youngster.
But after he was rushed by ambulance to hospital, doctors discovered the extent of his injuries.
Smith, 36, a mother of two, was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to the child at his home in Berkhamsted on December 8, 2011 when she appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Friday.
The child is under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and 17 months after the attack he is still suffering a watering left eye because of damage that was caused to a tear duct.
The jury heard Smith had been to a Christmas party the night before.
The following morning the child’s mum, a friend of Smith’s, asked her to call round because she was feeling down.
Smith told the court she offered to give the mum a break while she went out, but then the baby began crying uncontrollably.
Passing sentence Judge John Plumstead said: “I think she (Smith) had too much to drink the previous night and was fragile.”
He said he was also sure she was stressed out over a relationship with her boyfriend.
The judge said: “The child’s crying was more than she could cope with and she lost self control because she was hung-over and fed up.
“She literally hit that baby as hard as she could. It was unforgiveable behaviour.”
Smith of Cobb Road, Berkhamsted, said she had looked after the child before and told the court: “I adored him, he was gorgeous, beautiful.”
She said when the mother left, the baby was ‘distraught’ and added: “As soon as she left the room he went to pieces.”
Smith claimed she spent the next 10 minutes trying to comfort the child by rocking him and walking with him in her arms.
She said she decided to give the baby his bottle and left him sitting on the floor by a cushion and beside his toys.
Smith said she went into the kitchen to make a bottle, but then the tone of his crying intensified.
Returning to the child, she said she noticed he had a small nose bleed and his eye looked ‘puffy’.
She said: “I picked him up and put him on my lap and popped his head back and cleaned him up with baby wipes, but it started getting much worse.” The boy’s mum then came home and they called an ambulance.
In hospital the extent of the injuries was spotted, and the child’s bloodstained Babygro was later found in Smith’s handbag.
The court was told Smith had suffered a nervous breakdown last year and she had attempted to take her own life.
Jailing her for nine years, Judge Plumstead told Smith: “This was in my judgement an act of extreme violence against a helpless and vulnerable child.”
The judge said the pictures shown in court of the child’s facial injuries after the attack were ‘shocking’.