Birmingham & Black Country

Hope Smith death: Neil Smith jailed for life for murder

Neil Smith Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Smith had been intent on watching football on TV, the court heard

A father has been jailed for life for fatally attacking his four-month-old daughter while she was in his care.

Neil Smith had been intent on watching football on TV when he seriously injured Hope Smith at her home in Walsall in August 2017, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

Her injuries were consistent with being shaken or thrown, the jury was told. She died three months later.

Smith, 33, of Viscount Road, Burntwood, was found guilty of murder.

He will serve a minimum of 13 years in prison before he is considered for parole.

Smith was caring for his daughter alone for the first time on the night he seriously injured her on 4 August, West Midlands Police said.

Image copyright FAMILY HANDOUT
Image caption Four-month-old Hope Smith died several weeks after the attack

Within 40 minutes of his wife, Nicola, leaving the house in Salters Road, Walsall Wood, she received a phone call from Smith saying the baby was "limp and lifeless".

Hope was taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital, but doctors said her brain damage was so severe she could not survive. Her life-support machine was switched off on 9 November.

A post-mortem examination revealed Hope's "catastrophic brain injuries" may have been caused by being shaken or being thrown onto a soft surface, or both.

In a statement Nicola Smith described her daughter as "perfect", and said she could not forgive her husband.

She said: "He snatched away our daughter's life and has not been brave enough to accept it or to tell anyone why he did it."

Det Sgt Nick Barnes, from the force's homicide team, said: "He appeared intent on watching a football match on TV that night, and maybe the frustration of having to care for the needs of his own flesh and blood manifested itself."

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