A French tourist has beaten his four-year-old daughter’s head against the stone base of a Rome monument so hard the child is now in a coma.
And when passers-by finally managed to snatch the child away, the man tried to bash his own head against the stone.
The pavement in the Piazza Venezia at the heart of the city is still stained with blood after the violent attack late last night.
Paediatric hospital Bambino Gesu said the child, named Luna, was already in a coma with severe head injuries when she was admitted shortly before midnight.
“Her condition is stable but very critical,” spokesman Daniela Perrotta told reporters.
The father, who has been named as 37-year-old Julien Monnet, was behaving strangely moments before the attack, according to a Canadian tourist who grappled to try and stop him.
Traffic officer Anna Esposito told Italian broadcasters: “He was holding the child in an unhealthy way. The child was crying and screaming.
“He was holding the girl by her arm and then started striking her (head) against the stone,” Ms Esposito said.
The Canadian grabbed the child while she struggled to hold the man and called for reinforcements.
“He was like a furious beast,” she said.
Police have since said that Monnet’s backpack contained medicine indicating he was receiving treatment for psychiatric problems.
Monnet is believed to live with the child’s mother near Paris – she is thought to have been on holiday in Turkey at the time of the attack and had no idea they had travelled to Rome.
Police say Monnet appeared to be in a state of shock when arrested, before being taken to Rome’s Coeli jail on suspicion of causing grave injury.