A teenage father who shook his 23-day-old baby to death has pleaded guilty to killing her.
Thomas Haining, who was 19 at the time of the crime, had been charged with murdering his newborn daughter Mikayla but prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to the lesser charge of culpable homicide.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Haining inflicted “catastrophic and unsurvivable” brain injuries on his daughter, leaving her in a coma with a fractured skull and several broken ribs.
The killer had stayed up on the night of June 7 2017 to look after baby Mikayla, who had been “unsettled” in the few days before her death, crying more than usual and suffering from diarrhoea.
With his ex-girlfriend Shannon Davies asleep upstairs in their Inverness home, Haining claimed to have taken Mikayla out of her Moses basket to feed her in the early hours of June 8, after which he said she became sleepy and unresponsive.
Phone records showed Haining – described by his ex-partner as “being in a panic” – had made four internet searches during this time, trying to find out information about babies being in a coma and querying: “What happens if a newborn baby is shake (sic) hard?”
Paramedics were called and, unable to resuscitate the infant, took her to hospital where she was placed in intensive care with a ventilator, having suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of the head trauma.
Later that afternoon, with medics concluding Mikayla’s head injuries meant “survival was unlikely”, the baby was taken off life support and placed into her mum’s arms where she passed away at 4.46pm.
After years of denying he had killed his daughter, Crown prosecutors told the court that on Thursday September 5 they had accepted a guilty plea from Haining to the charge of culpable homicide, rather than the original charge of murder, arguing it was “in the public interest” for the case not to go to trial.
The judge, Lord Pentland, questioned the advocate depute at length in an attempt to establish why they had accepted the lesser charge.
He replied: “The view was taken that a plea of culpable homicide would be acceptable in the context provided for the injuries.”
The prosecuting lawyer said it was possible a case could be made Haining had acted with “wicked recklessness”.
He added: “There was a loss of control from the accused when he was looking after Mikayla in the early hours of the morning for a short period of time had catastrophic consequences.”
Lord Pentland said he would remand Haining in custody until sentencing on October 15, with a social work report to be carried out in the meantime to support any mitigation from the defence.
Haining, now 21 and wearing a black suit and tie with black trainers, was led away following shouts of “you murdering f*****g bastard, conning everyone” from a man in the public gallery.
Detective Inspector Brian Geddes said: “Haining took the life of his daughter, a beautiful baby girl, in the most horrendous of circumstances.
“At just days old, Mikayla should have been safest in the arms of her father – instead he inflicted injuries so severe that she would never recover.
“I would like to thank Mikayla’s extended family for their support throughout our investigation and I sincerely hope that the punishment handed to Haining offers them some form of closure so that they can begin to move on with their lives.”