September 2008

Nanny to the stars jailed after leaving baby brain-damaged in ‘act of genuine cruelty’

A celebrity nanny who left a baby with brain damage and a broken arm after shaking him violently was yesterday jailed for three years. 

Jasmin Schmidt, 34, who has previously worked for an A-list pop star, lost her temper with the two-and-a-half-month-old boy during a ‘restless night’. 

The force of the shaking caused tiny blood vessels between his skull and brain to tear and bleed. 

On their return, the boy’s parents found him ‘limp and lifeless’ and took him to hospital.

Schmidt, a qualified paediatric nurse from Bonn in Germany, now living in Hampstead, North London, had been hired to look after the child while his parents attended a London Fashion Week function in 2002.

A scan also revealed he had suffered a fractured right ulna – elbow bone – which had occurred within the 24-hours before his admission to hospital.

His mother, who owns a designer clothes shop with her husband in north Yorkshire, found him ‘whimpering’ in his cot after Schmidt’s third night working for the family.

On the night of September 14, the nanny, who was studying for a degree in business administration at London South Bank University, took care of the child as usual.

The following morning the boy’s mother came downstairs to find Schmidt already dressed and ready to leave.

The nanny said not to disturb the child as he was sleeping after a restless night where he had been ‘angry’ and needed several ‘quite hard’ taps on his back to settle down.

When the baby woke some 20 minutes after Schmidt had left, his skin was blue, he was pale and his head was cold to the touch.

‘He felt limp and lifeless,’ said prosecutor Sally Howes QC. ‘The change in him from the night before was dramatic.’  

Giving evidence, the child’s tearful mother told the court: ‘I could tell his body was feeling a little bit more limp. I could tell he was very poorly.

‘Every inch of me was wanting him to be ok, but I could tell he wasn’t and he was becoming more lifeless and closing his eyes.

‘He was continuing to close his eyes and I just kept shouting to keep him awake.’  

When the worried mother called Schmidt on the phone, the dismissive nanny claimed the child could be suffering from the onset of a bug.

‘I said “he’s cold to the touch, could you tell me what it might be”,’ the mother said.

‘She didn’t seem concerned. She didn’t show any sign she could help me with what was wrong. It was a little bit like I was worrying with no reason to worry.’  

When the boy was taken to nearby St Mary’s hospital the true extent of his injuries were revealed.

Two brain bleeds caused the child’s condition to deteriorate after his admission to hospital but later it improved. 

Thanks to swift medical intervention the brain injuries proved only temporary and he was released from hospital. He is now a fit and healthy six-year-old boy.

Schmidt was unanimously convicted of two counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm by a jury at the Old Bailey last month.

Yesterday she was jailed for three years for each offence and the sentences will run concurrently with each other.

It can also be revealed that, following another trial earlier this year, she was cleared of causing actual bodily harm to a two-month-old baby girl between August 16 and 19, 2006 and a three-month-old boy between July 20 to 23, 2003.

Jailing her Mr Recorder Jeremy Gold QC said yesterday: ‘As you have never revealed what you did to him, I cannot rule out that these injuries were inflicted by you in an outburst of violence resulting from a loss of temper or a lack of sleep or both.

‘I’m satisfied that you used a degree of force that any sensible person, let alone a qualified paediatric nurse, would have inevitably realised was bound to have caused injury to a delicate and precious infant.

‘It was an act of genuine cruelty and you should be ashamed. You are obviously not ashamed because you continue to deny responsibility.

‘By your behaviour you have showed yourself to be unworthy of belonging to a profession which is dedicated to the care of often sick and vulnerable children.

‘It is self-evident you should never again be entrusted to care for children.’  

The judge said Schmidt had shown a ‘total lack of remorse’ and her refusal to accept her actions had allowed the ‘finger of blame’ to be pointed in the direction of the baby’s loving family.

‘In the minutes, hours, days months and even years after the incident you denied responsibility for causing the injuries.

‘As a result doctors had no help in treating the child in hospital and as time went by suspicion not only fell on you but also on his devoted and loving parents and grandmother,’ said Recorder Gold.

‘The strain on the family must have been enormous. They would have been spared that trauma had you not steadfastly refused to acknowledge what you had done.’  

He said ‘less caring parents’ may not have appreciated the distress the baby was in and their speedy actions in taking him to hospital prevented him suffering long-term injury.

Schmidt, who showed no emotion as she was jailed, was also banned from working with children for life. 

Schmidt had worked for a number of wealthy families in and around west London after arriving in the UK in 1998. Her clients included a famous popstar, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

She qualified in paediatric care in her native Germany in 1997 and later moved to London where she registered with Occasional and Permanent Nannies in April 2000.

For the last two years she has been working within the financial industry having re-trained and completed a degree course at London South Bank University.