A teenage father who inflicted fatal injuries on his three-week-old daughter searched the internet for “what happens when a newborn is shaked hard”.
Thomas Haining was jailed today after he admitted killing Mikayla at the family home in Mackay Road, Inverness, on June 8, 2017.
Haining, now 21, was originally charged with murdering his child, but the Crown accepted his guilty plea to the lesser offence of culpable homicide when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.
One man was escorted from the court after an outburst during which he swore and said: “He is conning everybody.”
The decision to remand Haining in custody before he is sentenced next month was greeted with applause.
Haining shook the infant, resulting in her head striking a door and causing catastrophic injuries.
Mikayla, who was born a healthy child on May 17, 2017, sustained a fractured skull and ribs and bleeding and damage to the brain.
Advocate depute Michael Meehan, prosecuting, said the child’s mother Shannon Davies had moved in with Haining the previous year.
The prosecutor said: “At this time Shannon was pregnant with Mikayla. The accused is the father of Mikayla and it was a planned pregnancy.”
Mr Meehan said that in the two days before the fatal attack the baby 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 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. A CT scan was carried out on the child which revealed 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 the baby’s death and the cause of death was certified as head trauma.
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 was for “what happens when a newborn is shaked 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.”
Haining, a former shop assistant, had been freed on bail before today’s hearing to an address in High Street, Grantown, but following his guilty plea his counsel Shelagh McCall QC said she was not moving for bail.
Judge Lord Pentland remanded Haining in custody and called for a background report to be prepared on the first offender.
Lord Pentland said he would give consideration to victim impact statements before passing sentence on Haining.
The judge asked for an explanation of the Crown decision to accept the plea to culpable homicide.
Mr Meehan said an inference could be drawn that there was not an intention to kill on the part of Haining.
He said there was an account of “a loss of control for a short period of time with catastrophic consequences”.
The court heard medical experts who reviewed CT images from Mikayla expressed the view that the baby’s brain injuries were “catastrophic and unsurvivable”.