Couple Denies Causing 3-Year-Old Boy’s Brain Injury That Could Impact Him for Life

A young couple babysitting a little boy in Australia has been accused of “acts of extreme violence” against him, causing serious brain injuries that could impact the child for life.

But student Xing Tong Shen, 24, and her boyfriend Xi Zhang, 22, deny hurting the three-year-old boy on May 8 this year at their Docklands home in Melbourne, Victoria.

Instead, they claim the boy climbed onto Zhang’s shoulders while the couple was watching TV, but slipped and hit his head.

The child, according to court documents, arrived unconscious at hospital with bruising across his face, abdomen, right leg, both ears and one foot—injuries doctors said were inconsistent with the pair’s story.

The little boy underwent brain surgery, with a blood clot removed, and was put in an induced coma.

Investigators say the child’s bruises were of varying ages, that a “significant injury” to his ankle and foot may have resulted from stomping, and that the boy could suffer lifelong conditions such as cerebral palsy or partial paralysis.

The child, now four, has undergone a recorded session with police.

Lawyers say it is understood he has “no recollection of this particular incident.”

On Friday, the couple appeared via video link in Melbourne Magistrates Court, with Shen’s lawyer saying she’d written an 11-page explanation that would hopefully resolve the matter.

melbournes magistrates court
Photo of Melbourne Magistrates in Melbourne, Australia in Jan. 16 2014. (Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

He said the statement was still being translated into English from Chinese Mandarin.

The court is also waiting on a biomechanical report, which will recreate the couple’s version of events and determine how plausible it was the child could have been injured so seriously despite falling less than a metre.

Shen and Zhang have both been charged with one count of intentionally causing serious injury.

According to court documents, the pair was babysitting the child to prevent him getting sick as his mother had the flu.

Royal Childrens hospital Melbourne
Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. (Screenshot/Google Maps)

They took the unconscious boy to the Royal Children’s Hospital that night, with police claiming the pair took up to 45 minutes before getting medical help.

Shen and Zhang have been remanded in custody, to reappear in court on Sept. 20.

By Amber Wilson