Oct 1999

Jail for dad who hit baby

A young dad was starting a jail sentence today after he fractured the skull of his seven-week-old son.

Powerfully-built Billy Fulcher, 26, slapped his son, Jacob, around the head because the baby continually cried.

At one time Fulcher, of Belfairs Court, Arterial Road, Leigh, screamed at the wailing tot: “Shut up, shut up – you’re doing my head in.”

The child, a twin to brother Zachary, was taken to Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London because his injuries were considered so serious. Zachary was not hurt.

Little Jacob may have sustained long-term brain damage because of the attack, Basildon Crown Court heard.

Fulcher, who also injured the baby’s knee and wrist, pleaded guilty to two offences of grievous bodily harm.

Sentencing him to two and a half years in prison, Judge Michael Yelton said the maximum sentence was five years.

However, under sentencing rules the defendant was treated leniently because it was his first offence and he had pleaded guilty.

The sentence caused uproar in the court’s public gallery among relatives of Fulcher’s estranged wife, Tanya.

Some were crying and there were shouts of “There’s no justice” and “He’s got away with it.”

His marriage had come to an end because of what happened, said his barrister, Peter Singer QC. He added that Fulcher, a former soldier, has already suffered because he has now lost his marriage and the twin boys he adored.

Mr Singer said the defendant did not intend to harm Jacob, but confessed to being heavy handed and suddenly losing his temper.

The barrister said Fulcher was immature and acted badly under stress.

Earlier, Graham Parkins QC told the court health visitors had checked out the twins and found no problems. However, when Jacob was seen again his injuries looked fresh and the police were called in.

The baby had severe bruising and the fracture was later discovered during an examination.

Fulcher, said to have been the victim of abuse as a child, told police when arrested: “I was clumsy with my kids. I don’t like them crying. When they start I walk away.” He went on to admit slapping Jacob, but insisted that the beating was not premeditated.