Stratford woman is jailed for attack that blinded baby girl

Judges says it “is difficult to envisage a more vulnerable victim.”

A woman who blinded a three month-old girl when she tried to stop her crying has been jailed for three years.

Agnieszka Barcentewicz, 29, left the three-month-old infant with severe brain damage after shaking her four or five times, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

The child, now two-and-a-half, is at a greater risk of sudden death in childhood and predicted to have a shorter life expectancy than average as a result of the incident on April 18, 2010.

She has a mental age of six months and suffered a visual impairment ‘so bad she would probably need to be registered as blind’.

Barcentewicz then abandoned the baby in the care of her boyfriend, Madasar Shah, at their home in Stratford, to enjoy a liaison with a man she met on a sex search site.

But she duped police by claiming she fed the baby at about 2pm then went collect her mobile phone, left in an Indian restaurant the previous night. She then went food shopping, she lied.

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Shah contacted Barcentewicz when baby became unwell but she did not appear to be upset when she arrived at the hospital.

Doctors noted the injuries were non-accidental and informed the police, the court heard. Barcentewicz was initially called as a witness after Shah was arrested and charged with causing grievous bodily harm to the youngster, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

She later admitted she shook the baby, but concocted a bogus story that the infant was crying after being dropped down a flight of stairs in a car seat.

On the first day of her trial, Barcentewicz pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm and perverting the course of justice. Shah also lied to police, claiming he heard the baby sobbing.

Passing sentence, Judge Timothy King said it was “difficult to envisage a more vulnerable victim than a three-month-old child”.

“On April 18, 2010, at about 3.15pm, your partner Madasar Shah made a 999 call when it became apparent to him that the child was seriously unwell,” the Judge said.

“The London Ambulance Service arrived and the child was rushed to hospital.

“At that time, you were not at home – you went out to meet a man who had been in contact via a sex search website.

“On admission to hospital, it was noted by doctors that the baby appeared to be suffering from life-threatening injuries.

“She suffered severe internal bleeding to the brain and serious bleeding at the rear of her eyes.

“Because of the gravity of her injuries, she was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital and it was noted the injuries to her brain were not accidental and had been caused almost certainly by violent shaking.

“You gave an explanation to police of the events which was untrue and a later account was also untrue, that you placed the baby in a car seat chair. That explanation is dismissed as highly improbable.

“At the hospital it was noted you were unemotional and not perceivably distressed about the infant’s condition.

“You accept on a basis of plea that you shook her four or five times with the sole intention to stop her from crying.

“You inflicted long term injury that this girl will have to remain with for the rest of what may only be a short life. In any view, the offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.’

Barcentewicz wept throughout the proceedings.

Prosecutor Sandy Canavan said the baby girl had been born healthy and was progressing well until the day of the attack, when her life “took an extremely marked turn for the worse”.

“This was a deliberate targeting of a vulnerable victim,” she added.

Gerard Hillman, defending told the court Barcentewicz had a “momentary lapse” adding that a “cocktail of factors” including insomnia and relationship problems with Mr Shah were responsible.

“This is a tragic case for all concerned not least the baby,” he said. “The baby was inconsolable and her crying was extremely harrowing for Ms Barcentewicz.

“She attempted, stupidly, to stop the girl crying and thought no further than that. She feels enormous guilt and will feel that for the rest of her life.”

Barcentewicz, of Harcourt Road, Stratford, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm and perverting the course of justice. The charge against Shah of grievous bodily harm with intent was laid on file.