14/08/2014 12:55 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Jail For Abusive Dad Who Left Stairgate Open And Lured Baby To Fall Downstairs

A 6-month old baby boy crawls around a safety gate and is approaching the top of the stairs.
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A father has been jailed for three years for subjecting his children to a series of appalling attacks.

On one occasion, the 27-year-old – who has not been identified in order to protect the children - opened a safety gate and placed a doll in front of it to lure his baby girl into falling downstairs. His wife told the police that she had heard the baby bumping on the steps as she fell from top to bottom.

Teesside Crown Court heard the man 'terrorised' his wife and children, and his daughter told the police he was a 'nasty daddy'.

In court, prosecutor Shaun Dodds said that the baby was not taken to hospital after the stairgate incident because the dad feared he would be discovered.

Some years later he shot her in the stomach with a ball-bearing gun and again refused to let her see medics.

The little girl was later treated for a torn lip by hospital staff. She told them she had suffered the injury from falling against a table, when in fact, her father had thrown a table into her face.

Her five-year-old brother was also subjected to violence. On one occasion he was 'throttled' and had his head rammed up against a bathroom door.

Mr Dodds told the court it was 'clearly a home where violence at the defendant's hands was prevalent and the children were petrified of him'.

"If he walked past them they stuck to the wall shaking," he said. "He would hit them with the full hand and pick the girl up by the hair and throw her around the room."

The abuse eventually came to light in 2011 when the couple were arrested for shoplifting and their daughter was seen to have a bruise on her face.

The two children and their mother were interviewed on video after a referral to social services. The dad was also interviewed and admitted he was 'short-tempered' and would 'snap' and 'smack them'.

Mr Dodds said: "He accepted that as a result of the way he behaved in front of the children the children would have been petrified. The children were all present when the violence occurred."

"He admits to covering up the violence by refusing to seek medical assistance and the children did not receive medical assistance on many occasions."

The man's solicitor, Joan Smith, said her client was a powerfully built man who did not think about the damage he could inflict upon a child.

"He is now in a relationship that is far more relaxed and happy," she told the court. "The man who stands before you is far removed from the man who lashed out at those children who he deeply loves and misses."

Sentencing, Judge Howard Crowson said the man's previous relationship had been built on his 'control and use of violence'.

He said: "These were appalling ways of treating very small children. Children were witnessing attacks on other children.

"You sought to prevent one girl going to hospital when you shot her because you knew that could not be explained as accidental injury."

The man entered a guilty plea to two charges of child cruelty between 2006 and 2012, and three charges of actual bodily harm assault. He was jailed for three years and three months.