Man said he attacked crying toddler because he 'wanted to watch X Factor'

Darren Fagan will be sentenced on June 9. Picture by

A CO Armagh man who punched a defenceless toddler leaving her with serious injuries said he attacked the child because he wanted peace to "watch the X-Factor''.

Belfast Crown Court heard that as a result of the unprovoked attack by 29 year-old Darren Fagan, the impact on the young child and her parents had been "life changing''.

Fagan, formerly of Clonavon Avenue, Portadown, had been due to stand trial charged with attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

The offences related to an assault on the toddler at her home in Bessbrook, Co Armagh on Sunday, October 19, 2014.

However, Fagan was recently re-arrainged and pleaded guilty to the charge of grievous bodily harm with intent.

The court heard that at the time of the attack the girl was aged just two years and four months.

Prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC said that the mother was separated from the girl's father and had only recently met Fagan.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said that the young girl had spent part of the weekend with her grandparents and also her father who had all reported her to have been in good health.

That same weekend, Fagan had stayed at the woman's house overnight and on the Sunday "started drinking cider from 1.30pm''.

The mother told police that the girl's father had dropped her home on Sunday evening and while "in good form'' had then become unsettled when she was put to bed.

After going to the kitchen to look for child medicine, she said she noticed that Fagan had gone upstairs and that her daughter "stopped crying" and she heard a "sudden a thud."

After confronting Fagan and running downstairs with her injured daughter Fagan tried to block her way and told her it was not what it seemed.

Mr Murphy said the mother managed to get out the front door and ran up the street to a house where people she knew lived and help was summoned.

The "lifeless' child was brought into the house where a police officer performed mouth to mouth resuscitation on her before she was transferred by ambulance to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

An MRI scan at the Royal Victoria Hospital later revealed that the child had sustained "multiple fractures'' to the head meaning the child will require "intervention and support in the future''.

When police eventually caught up with Fagan he insisted he had not done anything and became violent.

The senior prosecutor told the judge that Fagan initially tried to blame the child's mother and claimed she was drinking and on drugs and fell down the stairs with the child.

The court heard Fagan told a probation officer that he "punched the child as she would not stop crying'', claiming he wanted peace to sit with the child's mother and watch X Factor on television.

Judge Miller was told that Fagan had an "extensive criminal record'' including convictions for violence. One of those convictions was for assaulting the 20-month-old child of a previous partner.

The Probation Service had assessed Fagan as "dangerous'' who posed a "high likelihood of reoffending and a significant risk of serious harm'' to the public in the future''.

Defence counsel Ciaran Mallon QC told the court that there was "no premeditation'' on Fagan's behalf describing it as "explosive incident'' during which the defendant had lost self control. He said Fagan had expressed his remorse for the attack on the child.

He will be sentenced on June 9.

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