Woman, 23, is SPARED jail after she repeatedly attacked a baby girl and left her with permanent brain damage and broken bones before moaning about missing a haircut appointment

  • Shannon Soutter attacked a child leaving her with a ‘devastating’ brain injury
  • Some injuries were from ‘shaking’; rib fractures had been caused by ‘gripping’  
  • When the child was rushed to hospital Soutter was described as ‘acting normally’
  • Court heard she was ‘annoyed’ she might miss a hair appointment in two days 
  • She admitted assaulting the girl to her severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of her life, but walked free from Glasgow High Court yesterday

Shannon Soutter, 23, pictured outside the High Court in Glasgow yesterday

A child minder who left a baby brain damaged and then moaned about missing a hair appointment has been spared jail.

Shannon Soutter, 23, attacked the six-month-old child over a two-month period while she was supposed to be looking after her at a house in Arbroath, Angus. 

The girl suffered brain injuries as well as fractures to her skull, ribs and ankle, sustained through ‘shaking’ and ‘gripping’. 

Glasgow’s High Court heard the girl could also be left with permanent blindness. Medics describe her prognosis as ‘poor’. 

On April 28 last year Soutter had called the child’s father asking him to dial 999, saying the child was not breathing properly. When he arrived, he found his daughter ‘silent, limp and lifeless’.

The child was initially treated at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Her anxious father went with his daughter in the ambulance. 

Soutter went with a woman in a car, and was described as ‘acting normally’.

Prosecutor Ashley Edwards QC said: ‘She then discussed she had a hairdressing appointment on the Monday (two days later).

‘She was annoyed that she might miss the appointment.’  

Soutter was sentenced yesterday having earlier admitted assaulting the girl to her severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of her life.

But she walked free after a judge said it was ‘neither appropriate or necessary’ to lock her up.

Lord Turnbull said Soutter had been struggling with a ‘history of depression’ and other personal issues at the time. He said: ‘She punishes herself daily and will continue to do so.

‘I think there is little the court can do by way of punishment that is greater than what she has imposed on herself.

‘In light of factors and the clearly vouched mental health difficulties, I am satisfied the public duty does not require me to pass a sentence which would incarcerate Miss Soutter.

‘The circumstances are so unusual that a degree of understanding, and some mercy, leads to the conclusion it is neither appropriate or necessary to impose a custodial sentence.’

Soutter sobbed as she was instead ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work as part of a three-year community payback order.

This also involves her having no unsupervised contact with underage children and to undergo treatment for her mental health issues.

The baby’s father – praised by the judge for the care of his sick daughter – was in court to see Soutter sentenced.

The charge spanned between February and April 2018.

Soutter was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow having earlier admitted assaulting the girl to her severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of her life

Soutter, of Perthshire, once claimed during that time the baby ‘hates me’.

Weeks later, she told a friend the child was ‘doing her head in’.  

Prosecutor Ms Edwards said the child had been found ‘gasping for breath, breathing around four times a minute’ when her father arrived in April. 

Soutter said she had gone for a bath after putting the child in her cot and then heard the baby ‘gasping’ and went to find her ‘unresponsive’. 

Medics found the child was very ill also having rib fractures of ‘differing ages’.

Miss Edwards said: ‘Blood samples confirmed that there were no medical explanation that would account for her presentation and injuries.’

A probe was launched by both police and social workers.

Soutter initially claimed she had been ‘rocking’ the child and that she ‘may’ have bumped her head off a table.

The court was told some of the injuries had resulted from ‘shaking’ of the child.

The rib fractures had been caused by ‘gripping’ of the child.

The leg fracture was called a ‘rotational-injury’. Miss Edwards said the brain injury was described as ‘devastating’ by medics.

The child was initially treated at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Her anxious father went with his daughter in the ambulance

The prosecutor said: ‘Her prognosis is very poor and she will have lifelong disability.’

Soutter initially claimed she had ‘no idea’ how the brain and rib injuries occurred.

It also emerged she had made an internet search asking ‘what happens’ if a baby is hit.

But she insisted this was to do with ‘back slaps’ when the child had not been breathing.

Soutter also told a police doctor that ‘her head was all over the place’ and that she had suffered panic attacks.

Ronnie Renucci QC, defending, had urged Lord Turnbull not to jail Soutter.

He said Soutter had ‘found it difficult to admit to herself, nevermind others’ her apparent struggles at the time.

Sentencing, Lord Turnbull said the child’s father had written a moving victim impact statement of how they are coping.

The judge said: ‘Nothing can be done in this court to alleviate the stress and upset to a father who has the difficult responsibility of providing care for her.’

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