An enraged father who violently shook and killed his newborn baby daughter after losing a bet on a football match has been jailed for 10 years.
Mark Lackenby, 32, was watching Arsenal’s Champions League clash with Barcelona on TV with five-week-old Ruby last year, when he snapped after Barcelona’s David Villa scored the first goal of the match.
Furious Lackenby – who had backed Arsenal’s Robin van Persie to score first – shook his baby daughter causing ‘catastrophic’ brain injuries. She died the following day, a trial at Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Lackenby was today cleared of murdering his daughter at their home in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire, but was found guilty of her manslaughter by a jury.
He was also found guilty of causing Ruby grievous bodily harm when he broke her ribs a week or so before he inflicted the fatal injuries.
Lackenby, now of Bolton-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire, was in tears as the judge described what had happened when he was left alone with his daughter as he watched the match while her mother Gemma Coates was upstairs having a bath.
He had denied hurting Ruby.
The court was told Lackenby bet £2.50 at odds of 70-1 on Robin van Persie to score the first goal for Arsenal and Arsenal to win the match 2-1.
He stood to win £200 but when Villa scored Ruby cried and Lackenby lost his temper.
Sentencing Lackenby, the judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, told him: ‘It’s frankly despicable and defies belief that anyone could do such a thing to their own baby in such circumstances.’
The judge said to Lackenby: ‘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.’
The judge said that despite witnesses saying Lackenby – who has three other children from a previous relationship – was a loving and caring father, there was evidence he had harmed baby 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’.
The judge told him: ‘It’s a mystery to some extent as to what did or could have caused you to be so cruel to Ruby.
‘Was it one child too many?
‘Was it too many responsibilities?
‘Was it the break-up of one relationship and the beginning of another?
‘Whatever the reason, cruel you were to Ruby on several occasions.’
‘It’s frankly despicable… that anyone could do such a thing to their own baby in such circumstances’
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave
And he told Lackenby he had to ‘bear the guilt and the loss of your own child at your own hand’.
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.
Coates, 31, a former nursery worker, of the same address, was cleared by the jury of attempting to pervert the course of justice by giving a false account to medical staff as to how Ruby came about her injuries. She left the dock in tears.
Lackenby was found guilty after a three-week long trial.
After today’s verdicts, Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Sue Steeples said: ‘Mark Lackenby had his night planned.
‘He came home to his tea on the table, beers in the fridge and a football match on the television. He’d bet on the football and stood to win if the match went his way.
‘Ruby, his five week old daughter, was next to him on the sofa whilst her mother Gemma went in the bath.
‘When a goal was scored against Mark’s team, we believe he lost his temper and lashed out at Ruby.
‘We don’t know specifically what happened to Ruby but we do know that it resulted in a brain injury which led to her death.
‘Mark had an opportunity to help her. When paramedics arrived they needed a true account of what happened to Ruby so they could offer her the best possible treatment.
‘Mark lied to the paramedics and claimed Ruby had just stopped breathing.
‘We can only hope that today’s outcome offers some comfort to those who loved her,’ said Ms Steeples.
Detective chief inspector Sean Middleton, the senior investigating officer from South Yorkshire Police, said: ‘This is a tragic case which must have caused a great deal of anguish for the extended family of Ruby and has greatly affected the community of Goldthorpe.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Goldthorpe community for helping us.’
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