A MOTHER has left a courtroom in tears as a man accused of punching her baby walked free.
The man, who allegedly hit the baby several times while it lay in a pram, was given an 18-month good behaviour bond.
He cannot be named to protect the child.
The man pleaded guilty in the Hervey Bay District Court on Tuesday to assault occasioning bodily harm against the 11-month-old baby on June 25 last year.
The case went to trial due to disputed facts between the defence and prosecution.
The court heard the accused man was sitting on a park bench on Old Maryborough Rd near Pialba Place when the incident happened.
Crown prosecutor Ken Spinaze alleged the man hit the baby causing grazing on the chin and elbow as well as a cut to the head.
Dr Antonio Silver Salinas examined the baby at the Hervey Bay Hospital.
He said although it was difficult to be certain, the bruising on the baby looked recent.
Witness James Edward Rosenburger saw the assault as he drove past in a truck.
He told the court he witnessed the man sitting on a park bench "whacking" into a pram about three or four times.
Mr Rosenburger then called the police.
Defence barrister Eoin MacGiolla Ri argued that the man was not assaulting the child but hitting the pram because it was difficult to use.
"If any one of those blows had successfully landed on the child there would be a significant injury," he said.
He also told the court the man had consumed alcohol on the day of the offence.
The man had a history of anger management and intellectual problems.
Judge Hugh Botting could not be certain the man was striking the baby and disagreed with the prosecution's call for a prison sentence.
Judge Botting agreed the man was hitting the arm of the pram because it was difficult to use.
"You struck it forcefully," he said.
"As a result the child was thrown around."