New Brunswick man who pleaded guilty to assaulting child sentenced to 3 years

A New Brunswick man was sentenced to three years in prison at the Saint John provincial court on Monday after pleading guilty to the aggravated assault of his girlfriend’s young child in December.

Carson Bennett, 20, was accused of assaulting the child in five separate incidents, including suffocating the child to the point of unconsciousness before performing CPR to resuscitate her, pouring water on her face and stuffing the infant in a duffel bag, which broke her femur.

Joanna Park spoke on behalf of the Crown and asked for a minimum sentence of three years, citing several aggravating factors, including Bennett’s position of trust and power, the number of alleged incidents of assault and the endangerment of the life of the child.

Park also referred to a victim impact statement submitted by the child’s grandparents, who are now raising her. They wrote that the child still cries out “no, no, no” in her sleep and is still afraid of the bathtub as a result of the alleged assault.

The defence asked Judge Andrew Palmer to consider giving time served, which counts as about 18 months, arguing that Bennett’s difficult upbringing and drug addiction should be considered as mitigating factors.

Palmer said that the aggravating factors are “significant” and referred to photos of the child admitted as evidence in his remarks.

“There are bruises that are fresh, there are bruises that are old, there are bruises all over that child’s body,” he said.

Palmer acknowledged that Bennett has substance abuse issues and said the man was in over his head trying to care for a child.

“By my estimation, Bennett was in a situation he was unprepared for, not much more than a child himself. … That, coupled with substance abuse, addiction, almost spelled disaster for this child,” Palmer said.

A pre-sentencing report outlined Bennett’s family situation, stating: “Bennett reported that his father drank frequently and was physically aggressive while under the influence.”

“Drug use was said to happen in front of the children,” the report continues.

The report also detailed Bennett’s history of mental illness and anger issues, stating that Bennett “has struggled with anger and depression” throughout his life.

Bennett’s sentence includes three years of probation. He is barred from making contact with the child or her family and is required to stay clean.

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