The man who punched a baby in Tesco's 'thinking it was a doll' has been convicted

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A man who randomly hit a baby in a supermarket has been convicted of assault by beating.

David Hardy, 64, claimed he was "messing about" and thought he was striking a doll when he tapped five-day-old Elsie Temple with "a loose fist" to playfully "wind up" the baby's seven-year-old sister.

District Judge Sam Goozee, sitting at Manchester Magistrates' Court, dismissed his claim that he thought he had punched a doll as "implausible" and found him guilty.

David Hardy leaves court (Danny Lawson/PA)
(Danny Lawson/PA)

The incident took place at Tesco supermarket in Baguley, Wythenshawe, on September 5 when Amy Duckers took out Elsie for the first time in public.

The baby was strapped into a car seat and was placed in a small shopping trolley with Duckers's other daughter, Libby, on the opposite side.

Duckers told the court she bumped into her next-door neighbour, who went over to the baby. The neighbour, who worked at Tesco, then called over her colleague Elaine Hardy, to look at the "beautiful baby".

She said Hardy - husband of the Tesco worker - approached and, without warning, punched Elsie in the face and head.

tesco sign (Rui Vieira/PA)
(Rui Vieira/PA)

Wiping away tears in court, and screened from Hardy, she said: "He didn't even look in my pram. It was actually the first thing that happened ... It was really bizarre how he approached without saying a word."

She confronted him and she said he denied he had struck her. Duckers continued: "It was only when he saw he had marked her that he admitted he had done it but then he said he though it was a doll."

Elsie woke up crying after being punched, she said, and when her partner lifted up her pink woollen hat, there was a red mark "the size of an egg". The child was monitored in hospital overnight before she was released, the court heard.

David Hardy leaves court (Danny Lawson/PA)
(Danny Lawson/PA)

Giving evidence, Hardy, of Longfield Road, Baguley, said he first assumed it was a doll when his wife's work colleague called them over in "a childish voice" to look at the baby.

He said the seven-year-old girl "looked bored" and he asked her: "Is that your baby?" He said: "She didn't reply and I said 'I'm going to wake your baby up'.

"I thought it was a doll. I thought it was the little girl's doll. I realise now it was not, but at the time..." He added: "I was just messing around to lighten the mood."

He conceded it was "wholly inappropriate" and in hindsight there was nothing playful about his actions.

Hardy was fined £900 for the assault by beating and ordered to pay Ms Duckers £100 compensation and £500 towards prosecution costs.