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Benalla man Joseph McDonald played video games after shaking an infant son



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A Victorian man played games on his PlayStation and fell asleep seconds after fatally shaking his seven-week-old son.

A Benalla man, Joseph McDonald, pleaded guilty to one count of child manslaughter in Victoria’s Supreme Court on Friday.

The 23-year-old admitted shaking and beating baby Lucas’ head on the ground on October 24 last year. The baby died at Monash Children’s Hospital four days later.

But McDonald didn’t get help and instead put the baby in his rocker and started playing video games on PlayStation until the sawmill worker fell asleep.

When the child’s mother Samantha Duckmanton heard her baby’s piercing cry, she checked on it, but McDonald said the cry happened because he “wrapped it”.

Following the attack Lucas appeared to be choked, his eyes were unfocused and his arms and legs were making strange movements and he was not feeding, the court was told.

“Lucas deserved to feel safe and protected by his father, you disappointed him,” Ms Duckmanton said in a statement.

The baby killer didn’t deserve the title “daddy” because of what he did to his family, the mother said.

“You don’t deserve forgiveness and you don’t deserve the title daddy,” he said.

The baby was rushed to the local hospital’s emergency room after his condition deteriorated on October 25 before being transported to Monash Children’s Hospital in Melbourne’s suburbs.

McDonald lied to a doctor in the intensive care unit about what had happened and instead claimed the baby appeared to be “pale, breathing very quietly” after a routine medical examination.

“He was putting his own self-interest ahead of his child’s welfare … at least tell the medical staff in case something might be done,” said Justice Stephen Kaye about the father.

Lucas died on October 29 in hospital due to “catastrophic” head injuries, a court has been told.

When hospital staff told the family the baby had died of “accidental” injuries, McDonald said nothing.

Lucas’ distraught mother later questioned McDonald about it, but he lied to her and then fled the hospital.

He hid in a horse shed and when he was found he told the owner that he had been beaten and robbed.

McDonald reached the Wallan suburb and spent hours in front of an op shop before calling his mother and handing himself over to the police on November 2.

His defense lawyer Colin Mandy SC said the man was “very sad”.

“He feels he should be properly punished for what he has done and wants it, whatever it may be,” said Mr Mandy.

McDonald had anger management issues, no previous criminal history, was addicted to violent video games, entered an early guilty plea and was remorseful, the lawyer explained.

“He had a wonderful addiction to PlayStation,” Justice Kaye noted.

The judge will later sentence McDonald.

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