Walsall Man Sentenced To Life For Baby's Murder
23 February 2019, 06:04 | Updated: 23 February 2019, 06:05
A father has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of killing his baby daughter who was discovered with serious injuries at their family home in Walsall.
Neil Smith was caring for little Hope Sofia - who was just four months-old at the time - on his own for the first occasion on the evening of 4 August 2017.
She was discovered lifeless after her mother returned to their home in Salters Road, Walsall Wood, later that night.
Hope was taken to hospital but sfailed to recover and her life support machine was switched off in November that year.
A post mortem revealed catastrophic brain injuries which were consistent with being shaken or thrown onto a soft surface, or possibly both, and Smith - who had been previously questioned on suspicion of assault - was charged with murder.
The 33-year-old - who suffered serious injuries of his own following an industrial accident in 2015 - was convicted of murder following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court. Smith, now of Coleridge Close, Willenhall, was sentenced to life to serve a minimum of 13 years in prison.
Det Sgt Nick Barnes, from the force's homicide team, said: "We will never really know what caused Smith to turn so aggressive and violent against his own daughter.
"He appeared intent on watching a football match on TV that night and maybe the frustration of having to care for the needs of his own flesh and blood manifested itself.
"But whatever the reason, there can never be any justification for leaving his very young daughter with catastrophic injuries.
In a statement Hope Sofia's mother, Nicola said: "My daughter was perfect to me, I loved her, I still love her, my beautiful baby girl. When Hope Sofia was born it was like the last part of a puzzle fitting into place" https://t.co/oUU4deGlRZ pic.twitter.com/lYLyG1ONdR— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) 22 February 2019
In a statement her mother Nicola said: "My daughter was perfect to me, I loved her, I still love her, my beautiful baby girl. When Hope Sofia was born it was like the last part of a puzzle fitting into place.
"The date 4 August 2017, the day she was taken to hospital, was one of the worst days of my life but it got worse.
"Soon after Hope Sofia's admission to hospital, doctors began to explain that she had suffered serious 'non accidental' injuries and she was unlikely to survive them.
"My baby girl survived for three months until she died on 9 November 2017.
"My husband stood accused of causing these awful injuries and was eventually charged.
"I listened to the injuries he caused, graphically described by doctors and experts, during the trial.
Her own father shook her so hard he killed her.
"I cannot forgive him for what he has done, I loved that man, I cared for that man, I loved him, for better for worse and in sickness and in health; but he snatched away our daughter's life and has not been brave enough to accept it or to tell anyone why he did it.
"We cannot get closure because the question will always be, why did he do this?!
"I will miss Hope Sofia every day and I will miss experiencing the life she would have had, those things other mothers get to share with their daughters, the things you take for granted. She will miss all of the opportunities in life to be a daughter, a granddaughter and a sister."