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Adelaide dad sentenced to six years jail for shaking five-week-old baby causing his death

A young father who shook his five-week-old son because he wouldn’t stop crying broke down in tears as he was told he would spend six years in jail for the crime. 

The Supreme Court in Adelaide on Friday heard Brandon Lee Harris has had a ‘hard time’ behind bars, particularly since other inmates learned of the nature of his crime.

Harris twice shook his newborn son Kobi at a home in Kadina in May 2018, leaving him with injuries so severe he was brain damaged, blind and eventually died.

The young dad initially pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious harm and was sentenced to four years behind bars, but that charge was later upgraded to manslaughter after Kobi’s death, The Advertiser reported.

Initially, Harris told nurses his son hit the back of his head on an arm chair while flinging himself around during a tantrum.

He later confessed to shaking Kobi twice. First when he wouldn’t accept his bottle and again when he wouldn’t stop crying.

Harris told the court that after the second incident, Kobi took his bottle with no complaints and fell asleep.

But the next morning, Kobi’s mother noticed something was awry.

She said the five-week-old was unusually quiet and was ‘breathing funny’, so she took him to the doctor. 

He was then ordered to go to hospital, after the GP noticed dilated pupils, irregular breathing and a bruise to his wrist. 

The hospital identified several more significant injuries, including brain damage so severe it resulted in seizures and paralysis.

Kobi was also blind. 

Harris was arrested a short time after Kobi’s admission to hospital and in July 2019 was sentenced to four years in jail with a non-parole period of 18 months.   

Kobi was placed in the care of a foster family, who looked after him for more than a year until he died in the arms of his foster mother.

Weeks later, Harris was charged with manslaughter.

On Friday, Justice Mark Livesey said he believed Harris would punish himself for his actions long after he completed his sentence.

He said while he was optimistic about Harris’ chances for rehabilitation, there were several unexplained injuries on Kobi’s body at the time of the shaking which were cause for concern.

Justice Livesey sentenced Harris to six years behind bars, and backdated the sentence to begin at the same time as his initial sentence.

Harris wiped away tears as the sentence was handed down. 

He will be eligible for parole in late 2023.  

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