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Inverness father Thomas Haining who killed his three-week-old daughter should have 'manned up' High Court in Edinburgh is told

By Gregor White

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Thomas Haining.
Thomas Haining.

Sentencing him to eight years a judge told Thomas Haining no term he could impose would repair the damage he had done.

Haining, then aged 19, shook daughter Mikayla, resulting in her head striking a door at the family home.

He later woke up the child's mother Shannon Davies, shouting that the baby had stopped breathing and urging her to call an ambulance while he made resuscitation efforts.

But a subsequent examination of his mobile phone revealed he carried out a series of internet searches beginning almost an hour before he alerted her to the baby's plight .

The first Google search used the term: "baby took a panic attack and now she's unresponsive".

It was followed minutes later by "what happens when a newborn is shaked hard", with a final search for "newborn in a coma".

Despite this Haining told paramedics that his daughter had been unwell for two or three days, was crying as if in pain when fed and that her breathing went "funny" then stopped.

Mikayla was found to have suffered a skull fracture and seven broken ribs. The cause of death was given as head trauma.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh today judge Lord Pentland told Haining: "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 that while the attack on June 8, 2017 at the home Haining and Ms Davies had shared in Mackay Road, Inverness, 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.

Pointing out that Haining had the presence of mind to carry out three internet searches before he woke the child's mother he 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 but for his guilty plea.

He added: "Mikayla was 23 days old. She was in your sole care at the time."

Haining (22) was originally charged with murdering his daughter by repeatedly inflicting blunt force trauma to her head and body by means unknown but the Crown accepted his guilty plea to a reduced charge of culpable homicide.

He admitted killing his daughter by shaking her, causing her head to hit a door.

Haining, formerly of a bail address at High Street, Grantown on Spey, was remanded in custody following his plea last month to await sentence today.

The court heard that Haining, a former shop assistant, began a relationship with Ms Davies who moved in with him to the house in Inverness.

Mikayla was born on May 17, 2017 at Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness, and was a healthy baby. Her death was confirmed at the same hospital just weeks later following Haining's fatal attack.

Medical experts concluded that she suffered brain injuries which were "catastrophic and unsurvivable", the court heard.

In the two days before she died, the court was told, Mikayla had been unsettled and on June 7 Haining has sat up with her in the living room while her mother slept in the bedroom alone.

Haining woke her a number of times during the night with concerns about Mikayla's temperature before she was woken by him shouting at about 5am that she had stopped breathing.

He told a doctor at Raigmore Hospital that he fed his daughter some milk, but afterwards she was screaming before she suddenly went quiet and floppy.

He said he later noticed that she was making abnormal slow movements with her arms and that she had stopped breathing.

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

"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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