Northern Ireland

Toddler attack: Darren Fegan's sentence appeal dismissed

Darren Fegan Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Darren Fegan told probation officers he punched the child because he wanted peace to watch X-Factor

A man who fractured a toddler's skull because she was crying while he was watching X-Factor on television has failed in his attempt to have his 13-year sentence reduced.

Darren Eamonn Fegan, 30, punched the two-year-old while visiting her mother's Bessbrook home in 2014.

Fegan, formerly of Clonavon Avenue in Portadown, admitted causing the toddler grievous bodily harm with intent.

Judges in Belfast rejected claims the sentence was "manifestly excessive".

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "Where significant force is applied to a young child with intent to cause that child grievous bodily harm, the increased likelihood of significant damage to the child renders the conduct itself highly culpable."

Fegan had originally been charged with attempted murder, but that was left on the books after he admitted the lesser offence.

The Court of Appeal heard the attack happened after the child's mother had gone to obtain medicine in October 2014.

'Violently assaulted the child with extreme force'

She returned to the living room and noticed Fegan was no longer there, and when she headed upstairs she heard a sudden thump and her daughter stop crying.

The court heard Fegan was standing crouched over the child's cot and attempted to prevent his girlfriend leaving the house after she lifted her daughter and ran downstairs for help.

According to evidence in the case his knuckles were raw, with blood between his fingers.

At first he claimed the young victim's mother had been drinking, "cracked up" after seeing a text to him from another woman and dropped her child on stairs.

'Toddler requires the use of a wheelchair'

None of this was true and Fegan later accepted his guilt.

"He admitted that he punched the child who was in bed as she would not stop crying," the judge said.

"He demonstrated how he hit the victim and it is clear that he violently assaulted the child with extreme force."

The toddler sustained horrific injuries, including a brain haemorrhage.

The court heard that the toddler requires the use of equipment such as a wheelchair, has speech and visual impairments and is at risk of developing epilepsy.

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