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  1. ITV Report

Barnsley man jailed for daughter's death

Mark Lackenby Photo: South Yorkshire Police

A South Yorkshire father who shook and killed his baby daughter when he lost his temper as he watched a football match on TV has been jailed for 10 years.

Mark Lackenby, 32, had placed a bet on Arsenal beating Barcelona in their Champions League clash on February 16 2011, and the bet also included the London side's forward Robin van Persie scoring the first goal of the match, a jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Lackenby was so angry when Barcelona's David Villa put the Spanish team into the lead he lashed out at his five-week-old daughter Ruby, leaving her with injuries from which she later died.

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

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 was in tears as the judge described what had happened when he was left alone with his daughter as he watched the match as her mother was upstairs having a bath.

He had denied hurting Ruby.

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."

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.

Lackenby was found guilty after a three-week long trial.

Ruby was five-and-a-half-weeks-old when she died in February 2011, her parents Lackenby and Gemma Coates, 31, were arrested in July 2011 and then charged in January, 2012.

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.

– Sue Steeples , Crown Prosecution Service

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.

– Detective Chief Inspector Sean Middleton