Chang Teng Wang, 58, of Finglas, Dublin, admitted to police that he had vigorously shaken the baby in an attempt to calm him and pleaded guilty to the unlawful killing of Seán Wang on August 15, 2019
A man who admitted vigorously shaking his 10-month-old grandchild, leading to the child’s death, has been jailed for five and a half years.
Chang Teng Wang, 58, of Finglas, Dublin, admitted to gardaí that he had vigorously shaken baby Seán in an attempt to calm him. Wang pleaded guilty to the unlawful killing of Seán Wang on August 15, 2019, reports Irish Mirror. Imposing sentence at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday, Judge Martina Baxter said Wang caused “the most final and devastating of injuries” to his grandson, which resulted in his death.
Judge Baxter handed down a sentence of six and a half years in prison, with the final 12 months suspended on strict conditions. Judge Baxter said the aggravating factors included that Sean was “a very healthy baby boy, who had his whole life ahead of him.”
She described him “as an example of the most vulnerable group of human beings that exist in our society who require us to protect them and shield them from harm.” Judge Baxter said that Wang had caused the death of his grandson, which is something he “will have to live with for the rest of his life” and that “clearly, he is ashamed of what has transpired.”
She also noted the support of his son and daughter-in-law, and said: “It is very clear that they are compassionate and have forgiven him.” Judge Baxter said that by taking responsibility for causing the death of his grandson, Wang “avoided a difficult and potentially complex trial” and that he did not “seek to try to blame anyone else.”
Judge Baxter said the number of explanations provided to the medical experts as to how this previously healthy 10-month old child could have been injured “caused an inordinate waste of time, firstly for the treating physicians and thereafter for the gardai.”
She said the mitigating factors included Wang’s guilty plea, work history and co-operation with gardai. At an earlier sentence hearing, Sergeant Siobhan Tolan said that shortly after midnight on August 13, 2019, the child and his parents arrived at Temple Street Children’s Hospital. The infant was in cardiac arrest upon arrival.
The court heard that upon presentation to staff at the hospital, the child was “unresponsive.” He was immediately placed onto a ventilator and CPR was carried out “after which, a pulse was detected.” She said staff “thought the baby had been choking” and that it was only after CT scans had been performed that the “gravity and nature of injuries” were recognised.
Séan was pronounced dead 66 hours after being admitted to the hospital. The gardai were contacted and began an investigation. Sgt Tolan told the court that the child had been in the care of his grandfather before arriving at the hospital. His parents were out with friends at the time.
When his parents arrived home, they saw their child was pale and unresponsive. They then rushed him to hospital. The parents thought the child could have fallen from a bed onto a wooden floor and become injured that way, but paediatricians said the symptoms they could identify were “unusual” in the context of what they had been told.
An examination conducted by doctors at the hospital then began into the cause of death. The parents claimed some of the child’s injuries could have been caused during their rapid drive to the hospital, and that the child might have hit his head against the roof. However, subsequent tests by gardai observed nothing that could have caused the injuries this way.
In a garda interview, Wang admitted vigorously shaking the baby, though he says this was done “in an attempt to calm him.” Post-mortem examination showed this vigorous shaking resulted in head and neck trauma, ultimately leading to Séan’s death.
Wang told gardai he did not shake the baby to punish him, and that he did not know his actions could lead to the death of his grandson. Sgt Tolan says there was no evidence that Wang beat or punished the baby, and that what had happened was accidental or negligent on his behalf.
Wang had been minding his grandson for long periods in the 15 days leading up to the incident. He said he struggled to deal with the child when he was upset, and how he “sometimes wanted to cry with the baby.” He arrived in Ireland from China with no English and is “entirely dependent on his son and son’s partner.”
No victim impact statement was presented to the court. Paul Greene SC, defending, told the court Wang “retains the support of his family” and that “he pleaded guilty with the full knowledge of accepting his criminal culpability.” He said there was a “very low risk of re-offending” and that Wang “wishes he could turn the clock back.”
Mr Greene said the facts that Wang pleaded guilty, is a foreign national, willingly complied with the court and has no prior convictions should act as mitigating factors. He also said Wang is willing to leave the country. Wang has no previous convictions and has not come to adverse garda attention since the incident.