Father jailed for killing daughter in fury at failed football bet

Judge condemns 'nasty outbreak of temper' which killed five-week-old

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The Independent Online

A father has been found guilty of killing his daughter in a rage over a football match, and jailed for 10 years.

Mark Lackenby, 32, had a bet on Arsenal beating Barcelona with Robin van Persie scoring the first goal, in their Champions League clash on February 16 2011. As he watched the match with the infant, her mother was upstairs in the bath.

When David Villa put the Spanish side ahead 11 minutes in, he lashed out at five-week-old Ruby, leaving her with injuries which would later prove fatal.

Today in Sheffield Crown Court, he was also found guilty of causing Ruby grievous bodily harm when he broke her ribs a week or so before the fatal attack.

He was cleared of murdering his daughter at their home in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire but was found guilty of her manslaughter by a jury of 10 women and two men.

Now of Bolton-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire, he had denied hurting Ruby. But today he was in tears as the judge described what had happened.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said: "It's frankly despicable and defies belief that anyone could do such a thing to their own baby in such circumstances.

"That evening you badly lost your temper with this tiny baby and the football simultaneously.

"You settled down to watch this football match. At 8.11pm that evening David Villa, a Barcelona player, scored the first goal.

"At around that time Ruby was heard to cry.

"It's abundantly clear that at that moment you shook her violently, causing catastrophic brain and nerve injuries which led her to collapse very quickly.

"Despite the best efforts of the paramedics who were on the scene very, very quickly and the marvellous care and attention by the various doctors who attended to Ruby at Barnsley and then Sheffield Children's Hospital, sadly Ruby's life support machine had to be switched off 24 hours later."

Witnesses said Lackenby, who has three other children from a previous relationship, was a loving and caring father. But the judge said there was evidence he had harmed Ruby on other occasions.

He said the tragic incident "was the result of a nasty outbreak of temper on your part and that it was a growing pattern of abusive behaviour by you towards your daughter, Ruby".

Lackenby wiped tears away a number of times during the judge's remarks.

After he stood and was sentenced to 10 years in prison he shook his head slightly but then thanked the judge as he was led away.