Grandfather who unlawfully killed grandson wishes he could turn back clock, court hears

by Gazette Reporter
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By David O’Sullivan

A man who was due to be sentenced for the manslaughter of his 10-month-old grandson has had his case adjourned to allow the judge time to consider the case. 

Chang Teng Wang (58) of Melville Rise, Finglas, Dublin 11, admitted to gardaí that he had vigorously shaken baby Seán in attempt to calm him.

He appeared before Judge Martina Baxter in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Courtand was remanded in custody for sentencing next Monday.

Wang pleaded guilty to the unlawful killing of Seán Wang on August 15, 2019.

In court this week, the Director of Public Prosecution said the offence falls within the bracket of medium culpability, however Wang’s defence submitted that it should be considered at the lower end of sentencing.

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 reoffending” 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. 

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 gardai 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.

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