August 2005


A YOUNG woman has been spared jail after biting a babe in arms.

Danielle Holmstrom, 24, sunk her teeth into the six-month-old boy’s belly so hard she nearly drew blood, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

And she threw the tot on to a bed so roughly that he suffered serious bruising to his chest, belly, chin and ear.

Robin Patton, prosecuting, said the abuse was discovered when Holmstrom’s friends told a relative they were concerned for his welfare.

The child, who was in Holmstrom’s care, cannot be named for legal reasons.

Mr Patton told the court the abuse was uncovered when two friends decided to pay Holmstrom a visit at midnight on January 5.

“When they arrived the child was upstairs, crying very loudly. One of the men went upstairs to see what the problem was.

“He was up there for about an hour, and in the end brought the baby downstairs. It was wearing a thin babygrow and was still very upset.”

“The other man had a look at it to try to settle it, and he saw there was a very significant bite to the baby’s abdomen, near the belly button.

“Clearly the mark had been caused by a bite. It was extremely red and the skin was almost broken. It was obviously very recent.”

Mr Patton said the men also noticed a fingernail puncture to the baby’s left calf.

He said: “Holmstrom had been in a real temper with the child and had thrown him onto the bed as if his arms were made of elastic.

“The room was littered with numerous empty beer cans. She stayed upstairs while the men tried to comfort the child. When she came downstairs she was extremely upset.”

One of the men told his wife what had happened, and she contacted the child’s great aunt, who took the boy to hospital the next day, where doctors discovered his injuries.

Holmstrom, of Bunyan Avenue, Biddick Hall, South Shields, told police she bit the child “only playfully”, but later admitted cruelty to a child by wilful assault.

Jane Waugh, defending, said Holmstrom’s life had been marked by tragedy, including the loss at a young age of both her mother and grandmother.

She suffered depression and had difficulty dealing with anger, Miss Waugh said.

“She was lonely and isolated. She’s an inexperienced person and became frustrated and angry with the baby and lost her temper. She accepts she acted in a way which was cruel.

“She understands that she has a problem. She needs help, not custody.”

Sentencing Holmstrom to three years’ community rehabilitation, Judge Esmond Faulk told her: “You’re a very troubled young lady.

“You suffer from low self-esteem, depression and isolation, and seem to lack any form of anger management. You simply cannot behave in the way you did with a young baby.

“This sort of offence is so serious that often custody is what a person in your position ends up with, but it seems to me you could do with some help to deal with your various problems.”