A FATHER from Wakefield who killed his four-month-old daughter when he threw her to the floor in “exasperation” has been jailed for five years.
A judge said he accepted Ben Smith, 34, was at the end of his tether and acted “totally out of character” when he fatally injured baby Mia in December 2009.
Smith was struggling to feed her and cope with her crying when he momentarily lost control at the family home in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Leeds Crown Court heard today.
He had just worked a week of night shifts in a supermarket warehouse when he found himself looking after his daughter when his wife, Amy, was admitted to hospital with shingles.
Smith originally told police that Mia, who suffered from colic, had simply slipped from his arms and banged her head on the floor, a judge heard.
But earlier this week, as Smith was about to go on trial for murder, he admitted manslaughter and this plea was accepted by prosecutors.
He made a statement through his lawyers which said: “In exasperation I threw Mia down to the floor from a standing position.”
The judge, Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones, said: “All indications are that you were a loving father.”
He added: “I accept that you simply came to the end of your tether in very trying circumstances.
“This is a case in which you lost control of yourself and a case of lack of intent.
“You acted totally out of character. You will have to live with what you’ve done.”
Smith, of Netherton Lane, Wakefield, who was wearing a dark suit and black shirt, listened carefully from the dock before he was led away.
Mia suffered her injuries, which included two serious fractures to her skull, at the family home in Worrall Road, Kettlethorpe, West Yorkshire, on December 22 2009.
She was taken to Pinderfields Hospital, in Wakefield, and later transferred to Leeds General Infirmary.
But, the court heard, she died on Christmas morning - four days after the incident.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Smith’s family said: “The loss of Mia at Christmas time 2009 has caused the whole family immeasurable grief, pain and suffering.
“The tragedy of Mia’s death was made even more unbearable by the fact we did not know what had really happened.”
Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, told the court how experts could not accept Smith’s original argument that he simply dropped his daughter.
He said this was because they concluded Mia’s injuries were too serious for this to be the explanation.
Adrian Waterman QC, defending, told the court his client was regarded as a good man and a good father.
He said he lost control in difficult circumstances.
“Few, if any, parents could say they’ve never been driven the limit of what they can endure by the responsibilities of parenthood, particularly in the early days,” Mr Waterman said.
“Some could say statements such as this: ‘There but for the grace of God.’”
After today’s hearing, Mia’s maternal grandfather, Richard Pickard, issued a statement on behalf of the family, which said: “Whatever the outcome of the court case it was never going to bring Mia back to us but at least we now understand the truth behind her death.
“As a family we would like to express our gratitude to West Yorkshire Police, the legal services and the many other people and organisations that have helped us through this very difficult time.”