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Troubled teen dad had baby access
Inquiries: Police at Bunbury Hospital. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

A teenage boy accused of assaulting his newborn son in Bunbury Hospital had unsupervised access to the baby despite previous "difficulties" with his 16-year-old partner.

Department for Child Protection boss Terry Murphy said while the 15-year-old ward of the State was a "troubled boy", he had been helping care for the baby in hospital since its premature birth and "there was nothing to predict the alleged crime".

The infant, who last night rem-ained on life support, was taken into State care after sustaining critical head injuries on Saturday night. The father is facing a charge of aggravated grievous bodily harm. Mr Murphy has to decide whether to turn off the baby's life support after consulting doctors and the child's family.

The baby's maternal grandfather said yesterday he had been concerned about the teenager having access to the baby alone.

Mr Murphy admitted there had been "difficulties" in the young couple's relationship but said no one had raised concerns about the 15-year-old's access to the baby before the alleged assault.

The boy was given unsupervised access to his child during hospital visiting hours after consultation with doctors, department officials and the family.

"He was a frequent visitor, together with the mother, to the child," Mr Murphy said.

"They cared for the child. Over 30 midwives saw the baby and the parents. This was not predictable. It also needs to be said . . . we do not know what occurred."

The grandfather said the baby had a fractured skull.

The family had asked doctors to not turn off his life support yet and to "give him a chance". It is unclear exactly how he was injured but it is understood the boy's mother ret-urned to the hospital room to find the baby unresponsive and the father claiming to be trying to give him CPR.

Child Protection Minister Helen Morton said it was a "terrible, terrible situation".

Mrs Morton said the 15-year-old's access to the child had been arranged after careful monitoring and she was "happy that the arrangements that were put in place were what could be predicted at that time".

Mr Murphy acknowledged the youth of the parents and the father's problematic behaviour after a childhood of neglect had led to an investigation on whether the infant should be removed from his parents.

He said there was no simple answer as to whether the boy should have had unrestricted access to his child.

"It is too easy to look back at a tragic event, find problematic behaviours and sheet home the cause to that, it simply is not that," Mr Murphy said.