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Dad who shook baby girl to death jailed for eight years

Thomas Haining left baby Mikayla with catastrophic injuries at home in Inverness.

Thomas Haining was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Thomas Haining was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh.

A father who killed his three-week-old daughter by shaking her has been jailed for eight years.

Thomas Haining left baby Mikayla with catastrophic injuries following the attack at the family home on Mackay Road, Inverness.

The 21-year-old previously admitted killing the baby on June 8, 2017, at the High Court in Edinburgh and was sentenced on Tuesday.

Haining, who was 19 at the time of the attack, was originally charged with murdering his child, but the Crown accepted his guilty plea to the lesser offence of culpable homicide.

Judge Lord Pentland told the killer: "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 court had heard how the child's head struck a door during the incident, causing her to sustain a fractured skull and bleeding to the brain.

Mikayla, who was born a healthy child on May 17, 2017, also suffered fractured ribs and brain damage as a result of the attack.

'No sentence I can impose can restore the damage you have caused'
Judge Lord Pentland

During a previous hearing, advocate depute Michael Meehan said the child's mother had moved in with Haining the previous year when she was pregnant with Mikayla.

Mr Meehan said that in the two days before the baby met her death she was unsettled and crying more than usual.

Mikayla was put in a Moses basket in the living room at the family home and her mother went to bed, with Haining staying with the child to try to settle her.

In the early hours of the morning the mother went downstairs and looked at her daughter who appeared to be sleeping before going back to bed.

Haining later sent her a text saying: "Babe sorry to bother you where is Mikayla's thermometer."

He then woke her up and asked for the thermometer as he said the baby seemed cold. They both checked the child's temperature and Haining told her the child had woken up and taken a little milk.

'The consultant radiologist who viewed the scan expressed the opinion that the severe brain damage was caused by trauma'
Michael Meehan

The mother went back upstairs, but Haining woke her again and asked her to take the baby's temperature again.

Later after 5am the mother was woken again by Haining shouting that Mikayla had stopped breathing. He told her to use his phone to make a 999 call.

Paramedics attended and the baby was taken to Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness, where a CT scan was carried out which revealed she widespread bleeding to the brain.

Mr Meehan said: "The consultant radiologist who viewed the scan expressed the opinion that the severe brain damage was caused by trauma."

A post-mortem was carried out after her death and the was certified as head trauma.

'This is a violent incident, but it occurs in a moment and it occurs in a context of an inexperienced parent, exhausted and feeling himself under pressure'
Defence counsel Shelagh McCall QC

An examination of Haining's phone showed he made three Google searches between 4.22 and 4.45 am. The first was for 'baby took a panic attack and now she's unresponsive'. The second for 'what happens when a newborn is shaken hard'. The third was for 'newborn in a coma'.

Mr Meehan said that the skull fracture sustained by the child was caused by "significant blunt force impact".

He added: "The rib injuries are consistent with significant pressure being applied to the baby's torso during shaking."

Defence counsel Shelagh McCall QC said Haining has shown remorse and now considered that he should have "manned up" at the time and told the truth.

She said it was reported that he felt disgusted with himself following the fatal attack.

"This is a violent incident, but it occurs in a moment and it occurs in a context of an inexperienced parent, exhausted and feeling himself under pressure, without the capacity or facility to cope with the situation," she said.

"He recognises a significant custodial sentence is appropriate and warranted because of the severity of his actions."

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