November 2006

Father jailed for death of baby

A father from Kent who killed his newborn daughter in a fit of temper has been jailed for four years.

Barry Wood, 33, of Park Cottages in Hawkhurst, claimed three-month-old Olivia died accidentally after falling from his arms and hitting her head.

A pathologist could not determine the cause of death but said her injuries indicated trauma by a third party.

Wood was found guilty of manslaughter at Maidstone Crown Court, but acquitted of causing grievous bodily harm.

Tests also revealed Olivia had received two fractures to the skull and a fractured shin bone in the weeks before she died.

At the time of Olivia’s death Wood, an assistant shop manger in Maidstone, lived with Olivia’s mother Sarah George in St Benets Way in Tenterden.

At about 0400 GMT on 20 January Olivia woke for a second time and Wood got up to change and then feed her.

During his trial, Robin Johnson, prosecuting, said Wood’s girlfriend woke to hear him calling her.

“When she entered the living room Olivia was limp in his arms,” he added.

Paramedics were called but the baby died in hospital.

Jailing him, Mr Justice Wilkie said he recognised Wood as being of good previous character.

“Unhappily it is clear that this was not the full picture and that as a father of a newborn baby you were unable to cope with the severe stress that parents of babies can be subject.”

In a police interview, Wood said: “She made a bit of a mess and dribbled. I went to get the tissue and as I did so I didn’t have hold of her properly.

“She slipped out of my arm and smacked her head on the side of the unit.”

Mr Johnson said the reasons for Olivia’s death may never be revealed.

“Whatever he did to Olivia was deliberate, albeit he may have bitterly regretted it and probably has ever since.”