A WOMAN who broke a baby's leg by using force in excess of 'rough handling' has been spared jail.

Amy Chandler, aged 27, of Old Coach Road, Droitwich had already admitted child cruelty when she was sentenced at Worcester Crown Court yesterday.

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The defendant 'wilfully ill-treated the child', causing a metaphyseal fracture to the child's right leg. The injury came to light after a health visitor noticed unexplained marks on the child's face and further health checks were carried out. Simon Phillips, prosecuting, said experts ruled the injury had been caused by 'pulling, twisting, gripping or shearing force' which was 'in excess of normal or rough handling'. Bruises to the cheek were caused by a gripping or pinching action. The initial explanation put forward by the defendant that the injury occurred while trying to reposition the child in the bath was 'an unlikely mechanism' for the injury.

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Chandler later accepted she must have used excessive force but her actions were never deliberate or intended to cause harm. "The most important factor is that this defendant admitted causing the injury" said Mr Phillips.

Experts said the child would have 'screamed out in pain'. The defendant said she was 'utterly devastated that my actions caused harm'.

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Chandler had no previous convictions. The child has suffered no lasting effect from the injury and no further treatment or intervention has been required.

Jason Aris, defending, said: "This defendant is a very mild-mannered, considerate young lady."

He also described Chandler, who works at Subway in Worcester, as 'hard-working' and the references he handed to the judge expressed 'some degree of surprise' about what had happened.

Mr Aris said Chandler had pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity before the crown court and had been identified by the probation service as being at a low risk of reoffending. "She has expressed a considerable amount of remorse in my submission" he said.

Taking into account her previous 'impeccable, indeed positive good character', Judge Nicolas Cartwright imposed a 12 month community order to include 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

He described the incident as a 'momentary use of excessive force' and ordered her to pay a £250 contribution towards costs.