A man who allowed his girlfriend to abuse her 14-month-old daughter has been told by a judge that he would ban him from having children if he had the power.
Jordain Palmer, 19, was locked up for four years for failing to prevent the horrific injuries Melissa Phillips inflicted on her child.
Phillips has also been sentenced to four years after she left the toddler, Ruby, with fractures to her hands, left wrist and a shin bone, as well as bruises that covered her face, torso and legs.
Every one of the child's finger-nails was blackened, perhaps from being stamped on or shut in a door frame.
Judge David Ticehurst lamented the fact that his sentencing powers were restricted to putting Palmer behind bars and told him: ‘It is a matter of regret that I do not have the power to stop you having children in the future.
‘If I had the power to, I would use it. You are not a fit and proper person to have children. Whether you ever will be in the future remains to be seen.
In fact Palmer has already fathered a baby with 19-year-old Phillips who has three children.
After hearing of the shocking catalogue of abuse meted out to Ruby, the judge told Palmer at Bristol Crown Court: ‘There was a systematic course of deliberate cruelty to her, caused by her mother.
‘Despite that you did nothing whatsoever about it and you let matters continue. You were not responsible for the injuries but your culpability is almost as great as hers.
Concern was raised about Ruby in March last year when her worried grandfather, Tim Phillips, took her to a GP during a visit to the family home in Brentry, Bristol.
A doctor immediately referred Ruby to Bristol Children’s Hospital after noticing that she had a limp and she was examined by consultant paediatrician Dr Richard Williams.
Emergency X-rays revealed she had a healing fracture of a shin bone just below the knee, a fractured left wrist and a fracture of the left forearm.
Fractures to the base of the second and third metacarpals of the left hand and at the base of the third metacarpal on the right hand were also identified. All the nails of both hands as well as those of her big toes were ripped and black.
Ruby also had bruising to her face, ears, rib cage and legs.
Phillips and Palmer were both arrested after Dr Williams indicated that the child’s terrible injuries were ‘non-accidental’.
Phillips was sentenced to four years in a young offenders’ institution last week after admitting child cruelty. Palmer was found guilty of the same offence following a trial and was also sent to a young offenders’ institution for four years on Tuesday.
The jury convicted him, despite agreeing that he did not commit the abuse, for failing to stop it.
Kerry Barker, prosecuting, said Ruby, now two, had been living with her mother and Palmer at the time of the six-week period of abuse. He told the court that a consultant dermatologist claimed the injuries to Ruby’s nails could have been caused by her fingers being trapped in a door or stamped on.
Mr Barker said: ‘Injury to the ears could have been caused by being pulled up by the ears.’
Fiona Elder, defending Palmer, said her client denied wrongdoing and refused to accept what Phillips had done, despite her guilty plea.
And she said the couple had ‘an inability to cope with young children and the stresses and strains of life in general’.
All three children born to Phillips – Ruby, the baby fathered by Palmer and a four-year-old girl – are now in the care of others.