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23 November 2011, 14:24
A judge has praised the courage of a little boy as he jailed his ``vicious and cowardly'' attacker for 13 years.
Daniel Joyce stamped on the two-year-old's stomach at a house in Huddersfield, nearly killing him.
The youngster was only four when he gave evidence in court and became one of the youngest children to testify in a British criminal trial.
A jury at Bradford Crown Court found 29-year-old Joyce guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Judge Jonathan Rose contrasted the "cowardly and reprehensible" actions of Joyce with the "courage and bravery" of the victim.
"I'm quite deliberate in the use of the word cowardly," he told Joyce.
"It seems to me you are indeed a coward, not least when one compares your conduct against the bravery of that little boy."
The victim appeared at court and was questioned by barristers in live evidence that spanned half a day.
The judge and lawyers involved removed their wigs and gowns to make the session less intimidating for the youngster.
He gave live video evidence from an adjoining room, accompanied by a court usher and a female intermediary.
As part of the process he was handed cardboard cut-outs representing those involved in the case and various houses where he had lived.
At one point he described how he was stamped on by Joyce in February 2010.
The court heard how the boy's bowel was torn and required surgery and how he was bruised on his groin, left leg and back.
He also had injuries to his face, inside his mouth and on his ear, where Joyce had held his mouth shut during the attack to stop him screaming.
He needed an emergency operation for life-threatening injuries and may need further surgery, although his long-term prognosis is good.
Joyce, of Bankfield Road, Longroyd Bridge, Huddersfield, claimed that he found the child being sick and told his mother that the boy needed a doctor.
Judge Rose said the motive for the attack remained unclear, adding: "There are no circumstances known to man which could possibly justify or even mitigate this horrendous attack on a defenceless and innocent baby."
He told Joyce, who has convictions for violence, that "lying and deception comes easy to a man like you".
"You have shown no remorse whatsoever. The head you shake stood in the dock indicates you remain in that position."