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Man pushed child in tumble dryer and switched it on

Thomas Dunn put a toddler in a tumble dryer and closed the door, activating the drum in Arbroath.

Thomas Dunn: He put a toddler in a tumble dryer.
Thomas Dunn: He put a toddler in a tumble dryer.

A man has been found guilty of putting his friend's defenceless 13-month-old toddler in a tumble dryer and turning it on.

"Monstrous" Thomas Dunn then went on to carry out the attack on the tot that left her horrifically injured in Arbroath.

Dunn was convicted of two charges of culpably and recklessly putting the girl in the machine and assaulting her at her home.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard it was "only luck" the girl survived injuries that included two fractures to her skull.

Dunn admitted he had "assisted" the girl into the machine but claimed she had already started to climb in and that the machine had activated accidentally.

But a jury deliberated for little over an hour before finding him guilty of the charge, as well as one of assaulting the baby by repeatedly striking her on the head and body, hitting her against an "object" and biting her.

A sheriff told Dunn he had behaved with "utter indifference" towards the girl and carried out a "monstrous" attack.

The sheriff added: "Only by good fortune have you not been in the High Court on a charge of murder."

The child's 19-year-old mum told the court how Dunn was a "friend" who helped her with her children to "give her a break".

Describing the tumble dryer incident, she said Dunn was playing with the tot and then joked about putting her in the tumble dryer - but didn't think he was serious.

Guilty: He pleaded his innocence.
Guilty: He pleaded his innocence.

Moments later she turned her back and heard the machine activate followed by two loud thumps as the tot was flung about the drum.

Asked by procurator fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie to describe the events, she replied: "I had my back turned and I heard a switch on the wall. I heard a door closing and I heard the rotation.

"I turned around and saw her in it and I ran across to open it up but he got there first and opened it and pulled her out.

"She was screaming. I tried to get her but he wouldn't let me, he just walked out of the room with her. She wouldn't stop crying.

"I asked him about five times to give her to me, I was trying to be calm, saying please give me her back."

She later told how Dunn once told her how he could "suffocate" a child to "help them sleep", adding: "It came out of nowhere, he said: 'If kids find it hard to sleep you suffocate them by placing your hand over their nose and mouth for a number of seconds until they go drowsy.'

"I was shocked, I said 'That's not right.'"

Dunn later subjected the girl to an horrific assault that led to her suffering two fractures to her skull.

Medics told the court "only luck" prevented the girl from dying from injuries inflicted with "considerable force".

One of the fractures to the rear of her head was depressed and a circular piece of bone narrowly missed trapping the vein which drained blood away from the brain, the surgeon told Dundee Sheriff Court.

Mr Jayaratnam Jayamohan, a consultant at a hospital in Oxford, said the injury was not life-threatening in this case, but added: "That's from luck."

Asked by fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie if the injuries would have required two separate "significant impacts," he replied: "Yes."

Giving evidence in his own defence, Dunn said: "I didn't know the switch was on, it would've been the pin that activated the safety switch when it touched it.

"She was already climbing into it and I tucked her leg in. I closed the door but not fully, it wasn't like properly shut.

"It wasn't long, it wasn't like minutes she was in it."

Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie said Dunn offered no explanation that fitted with those serious injuries and added: "He has been outwitted by the expertise and brilliance of five doctors.

"They all said the injuries were non accidental.

"The forensic neurosurgeon said he believed the injuries happened at the same time as the brain malfunction, on January 8. They happened in his care and it was deliberate.

"The only thing he can't give explanations for are the most serious charges."

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