Man who shook baby to death jailed for eight years

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A man has been jailed for eight years after admitting killing his 23-day-old daughter by shaking her.

Thomas Haining, who was 19 at the time of the crime, had been charged with murdering Mikayla, but prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how he inflicted “catastrophic” brain injuries on his daughter during a “momentary loss of control”, leaving her in a coma with a fractured skull and several broken ribs.

The killer had stayed up on the night of June 7 2017 to look after baby Mikayla, who had been crying more than usual and suffering from diarrhoea in the few days before her death.

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 of June 8, after which he said she became sleepy and unresponsive.

Phone records showed Haining 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 and took her to hospital where she was placed in intensive care with a ventilator, having suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of the head trauma.

Later that afternoon, the baby was taken off life support and placed into her mother’s arms where she passed away at 4.46pm.

After two years of denying he had killed his daughter, Crown prosecutors accepted a guilty plea from Haining to the charge of culpable homicide on September 5.

Shelagh McCall QC, representing Haining, told the court on Tuesday he was prepared for a lengthy time in jail and that he now “hated” himself.

She claimed the killer panicked after the event but he now wishes he had come clean about his actions sooner.

Ms McCall said: “He described himself as reflecting that he should have manned up at that time and told the truth, as a clear acknowledgement from Mr Haining that he was solely responsible for what happened and that he ought to have told the truth far sooner than he did.”

She added: “He is preparing for a significant custodial sentence, he feels this is justified due to the severity of his actions, stating that he is disgusted with himself, that he hated himself for what he has done.”

The court heard the 21-year-old had a troubled upbringing and a history of violence as a teenager, although he had no previous criminal convictions.

Judge Lord Pentland said: “In the early hours of June 8 2017 you killed your baby daughter Mikayla.

“I use the term ‘killed’ advisably, as the Crown has accepted your late plea of guilty to culpable homicide and not to insist on the original more serious allegation of murder, on the basis you didn’t deliberately intend to kill Mikayla.

“Mikayla was 23 days old. She was in your sole care at the time of her death.

“You shook her, causing her head to strike the door that she was so severely injured that she later died.

“Anyone knows that to shake a baby is very dangerous.

“It was clearly a violent and severe assault on a highly vulnerable baby.

“After the attack, you delayed in seeking assistance and for a time attempted to conceal what you had done.

“Your immediate reaction was to protect yourself, rather than seek help for Mikayla.”

Haining was sentenced to eight years in prison, backdated to September 11, which the judge said that would have been nine years if it had gone to trial.

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