Barnsley dad killed baby over soccer bet

Andrew McCaren        Ross Parry'Picture
Andrew McCaren Ross Parry'Picture
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A FATHER who caused the death of his newborn baby girl by lashing out when his football team conceded a goal has been jailed for 10 years.

Mark Lackenby attacked his five-week-old daughter, Ruby, while watching a Champions League match between his team, Arsenal, and Barcelona.

He had placed an accumulator bet, predicting the first goal would be scored by Robin van Persie - but when Barcelona’s David Villa scored first he lost his temper.

Lackenby shook Ruby so violently he caused brain and nerve injuries.

She died the next day.

The 32-year-old shook his head in the dock at Sheffield Crown Court as he was sentenced to prison by Judge Charles Haddon Cave.

“Many will puzzle as to how you could have done such a thing,” he said. “It is frankly despicable, and defies belief 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.”

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 was next to him on the sofa, and when a goal was scored against Mark’s team we believe he lost his temper and lashed out.

“We don’t know specifically what happened to Ruby, but we do know 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 and claimed Ruby had just stopped breathing.”

Lackenby, of High Street, Goldthorpe, Barnsley, was found guilty by a jury of manslaughter, and of grievous bodily harm by breaking three of her ribs a week earlier, following a three-week trial.

Judge Haddon-Cave said the fatal attack on February 16, 2011, had been the culmination of a growing pattern of abuse against his baby girl, who had also suffered bruising at his hands.

Tests after Ruby’s death revealed she’d suffered head injuries, including bleeding.

She also had fractured ribs thought to have been inflicted seven to 10 days before her death.

Ruby’s mother, Gemma Coates, 31, wept as the jury cleared her of perverting the course of justice. She had been having a bath while Lackenby carried out the fatal attack.

Mr Haddon-Cave said the reason for Lackenby’s violence towards Ruby was a ‘mystery’ as he was a loving father to three children by his ex-wife.

“Was it one child too many? Was it too many responsibilities? Was it the break up of one relationship and the beginning of another?” he asked.

“Whatever the reason, cruel you were to Ruby on several occasions,” he said.

Detective Chief Inspector Sean Middleton, the senior investigating officer, said afterwards: “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.”