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Dad James Horton avoids jail for battering baby

by Keith Hunt

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

A young dad who lost his temper and broke his baby daughter’s arm was told he had has escaped a jail sentence by the skin of his teeth.

James Horton was sentenced on the basis he was a loving father who had a momentary lapse of control.

He was not being punished, said a judge, for several older fractures baby Scarlet was found to have to her ribs.

The 27-year-old former Maidstone schoolboy, of St Theresa’s Close, Ashford, was given a suspended sentence of just under a year with 250 hours unpaid work and two years supervision.

Horton denied cruelty to a person under 16, causing grievous bodily harm with intent and a lesser offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

He was convicted in November of inflicting grievous bodily harm by an 11-1 majority and cleared of the other charges.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the child was just three months old when she was taken to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford on March 30 2010.

He had been looking after Scarlet while her mother was visiting friends.

He later claimed the injury to the child’s upper left arm may have been caused by her getting tangled up in the bars of her cot.

Horton, who left Swadelands School in Lenham with six GCSEs before working on the railway, denied he had harmed his daughter in any way.

Asked if it was true he had assaulted and mistreated Scarlet, he replied: "No, of course it isn’t. I loved her."

Judge David Griffith-Jones QC said he made it clear that while it was a disturbing feature she was found to have historic injuries, he was being sentenced on the basis it was a single offence and he did not intend to cause serious injury.

"I sentence you on the basis the injury was the result of a sudden and momentary loss of control on your part," he said.

"Plainly, she was vulnerable. At the material time she was in your care and wholly dependent upon you."

The child, now in foster care with Horton having supervised contact, had recovered, he added, with no ongoing complications.

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