Highlands & Islands

Father who admitted shaking newborn baby to death jailed

Thomas Haining Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Thomas Haining was 19 at the time of his daughter's death

A father from Inverness who admitted shaking his 23-day-old baby girl to death has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Thomas Haining was 19 when he inflicted "catastrophic and unsurvivable" brain injuries on his daughter, the High Court in Edinburgh heard last month.

His daughter Mikayla died from severe head trauma in June 2017.

Haining, now 21, was originally charged with murder but prosecutors accepted a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Appearing for sentencing, a judge said no sentence could restore the damage Haining had caused.

On the night of the attack, Haining had stayed up to look after Mikayla, who had been "unsettled" in the few days before her death, crying more than usual and suffering from diarrhoea.

With his ex-girlfriend Shannon Davies asleep upstairs in their Inverness home, Haining claimed to have taken Mikayla out of her Moses basket to feed her in the early hours, after which he said she became sleepy and unresponsive.

Phone records showed that Haining - described by his ex-partner as "being in a panic" - had made four internet searches during this time, trying to find out information about babies being in a coma and querying: "What happens if a newborn baby is shake (sic) hard?"

Paramedics were called but were unable to resuscitate the infant. She was taken to hospital where she was placed in intensive care with a ventilator, having suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of the head trauma.

She was in a coma with a fractured skull and several broken ribs.

Medics concluded Mikayla's head injuries meant "survival was unlikely", and later that afternoon the baby was taken off life support and placed into her mother's arms where she died.

'Loss of control'

After previously denying he had killed his daughter, Crown prosecutors told the court last month they had accepted a guilty plea from Haining to the charge of culpable homicide, rather than the original charge of murder.

They said it was "in the public interest" for the case not to go to trial.

Sentencing Haining, judge Lord Pentland said: "Causing the death of a child by a violent assault is an extremely serious offence which must attract a lengthy period of imprisonment.

"No sentence I can impose can restore the damage you have caused."

The judge said while the attack was "the work of a few moments" and the Crown accepted there was a "sudden loss of control" by Haining it was unquestionably a violent assault on a vulnerable baby.

He pointed out that Haining had the presence of mind to carry out three internet searches before he woke the child's mother.

Lord Pentland said: "Your immediate reaction was to protect yourself rather than to seek help for Mikayla."

He told Haining that he would have jailed him for nine years for the crime but for his guilty plea.

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