Lochlan Rankine jailed for shaking seven-week-old son at Perth home and causing brain injuries

Key points:

  • Lochlan Rankine shook the baby while his partner was out and called triple-0
  • The judge accepted he was remorseful but said the force was "significant"
  • Rankine's partner and mother yelled support to him from the public gallery

A Perth father who caused life-threatening brain injuries to his seven-week-old son by shaking him has been jailed for almost four years.

Lochlan Stuart Rankine, 28, was found guilty by a District Court jury of causing grievous bodily harm to his son, Bam, at the family's Hamersley home in August 2018.

Rankine was looking after the child while his partner went to the gym.

While exactly what happened is not known, medical experts testified the injuries suffered by Bam, including bleeding to his brain and his eyes, were consistent with him being "violently shaken."

When the baby became unresponsive, Rankine immediately called triple-0, telling the operator the child was having trouble breathing and had gone limp.

Lochlan Rankine standing outside court.
Rankine was found guilty by a jury of causing grievous bodily harm to his infant son.(ABC News)

He then performed CPR on the baby under the guidance of the operator, and the baby became responsive again before an ambulance arrived and rushed him to hospital.

He was found to have a range of injuries and later required two surgeries.

Rankine denied hurting his baby, telling police he found Bam unresponsive when he returned to check on him in his rocker, where he had placed him after giving him a bottle.

He was also described by his lawyer, Mark Cuomo, as a loving father who was looking after his son as best he could.

Significant force used, judge says

On Monday the court was told Bam was now two-and-a-half-years old, and while he was progressing normally and meeting all his developmental milestones, medical professionals reported his long term prognosis was uncertain.

Judge Gary Massey described the case as "very sad", saying he was satisfied that Rankine did love his son and that deep down inside himself he was remorseful for causing harm to the baby.

A head and shoulders selfie of a smiling man wearing a black jumper, red hat and red over-ear headphones.
Rankine will have to serve half the term before he can be released on parole.(Facebook: Lochlan Rankine)

Judge Massey accepted Rankine's offence was not premeditated and found it was a spur-of-the-moment action, most likely borne out of frustration.

But he said the degree of force he must have used on a "very vulnerable baby" was significant.

Judge Massey took into account that after being charged, Rankine was not able to have contact with his son, meaning he was not able to bond with Bam during his important early years of life.

He noted, however, that Rankine had the support of his family and his partner, whom he had since married.

She was in court on Monday and during a break in proceedings yelled at the prosecutor to "stop telling lies about my family."

Judge Massey imposed a sentence of three years and eight months' jail.

Rankine will have to serve half the term before he can be released on parole.

As he was being led away, his partner and mother yelled "I love you" to him from the public gallery.

Baby Bam 'doing well'

Outside the court, Mr Cuomo described the case as tragic, saying his client and his family were devoted to the care of Bam.

"The family want to look after their son and get on with their lives. Hopefully this sentence will allow them to do so," he said.

Mr Cuomo said the family was also hopeful about Bam's future.

"The best information we have is that Bam's meeting his milestones and he's doing well," he said.

"There's no need for ongoing medical treatment at this stage … he's a happy, healthy child, much loved by his family.

"It's very tragic circumstances, but this young child has got a very caring family wrapped around him and hopefully that will sustain him in his life."


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