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Father jailed for eight years over baby's death

A father has been jailed for eight years for killing his baby daughter after being frustrated by her screaming as he tried to play a computer game.

Mark Sandland, 28, sobbed as he was sentenced for picking up five-week-old Aimee-Rose by her torso and shaking her during a sudden loss of temper.

He claimed he suffered an epileptic fit and came round to find his daughter underneath him at their flat in Church Road in St Leonards.

Police who attended the flat after Aimee-Rose was admitted to hospital on November 5 2012 found a PlayStation game controller on the sofa opposite the TV.

Sandland was charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of lack of intent, which was accepted by the Crown.

Sentencing him at Hove Crown Court, Judge Mr Justice Sweeney said that after he inflicted the injuries, Sandland lied and sought to cover up his actions.

Prosecutor Sally Howes QC told Lewes Crown Court on Monday that Sandland’s mobile phone internet history showed he logged on to a website offering tips on how to play Assassin’s Creed 3 on his PlayStation at 2.22pm.

The detail of the website, giving step-by-step instruction, meant there would have been little point accessing it unless the game was being played, she added.

Mr Justice Sweeney said: “It’s the Crown’s case that thereafter, frustrated with the game and with Aimee-Rose screaming, you lost your temper and you assaulted her, gripping her torso hard and violently shaking her.

“Whilst it’s impossible to identify the precise detail of what you did, the injuries that you caused Aimee-Rose speak for themselves.”

Her injuries included bruising to her face, chest, abdomen, hip and lower limbs. She also suffered a range of other injuries, including subdural haemorrhages in a number of locations.

Some 16 minutes after Sandland logged on to the website giving tips on Assassin’s Creed 3, he dialled 999.

Mr Justice Sweeney told him: “Whilst you have no recollection now of the fatal incident, it’s obvious that at the time you appreciated what you had done and in consequence lied and sought to cover up what had actually happened.

“You pretended on the phone that you had a fit. You turned off the television to cover up the fact that you had been on the PlayStation.

“Thereafter you continued to lie and cover up to those who were trying to treat Aimee-Rose, although I stress that they wouldn’t have done anything different if you had told the truth, and to the police.”

The judge said there were a number of aggravating features, including the fact that Aimee-Rose was a vulnerable child aged just five weeks old.

In addition, he said Sandland was in a position of trust, made repeated false accounts to cover up his actions, and had shown no real remorse.

The judge accepted it was a “momentary” event lacking in premeditation and he sought emergency help, albeit giving a misleading account.

Mr Justice Sweeney said Sandland – who sobbed with his head down as he was sentenced – will serve half his jail sentence.

On release, he will be on licence for the remainder of his sentence and if he breaks the terms, will be liable for recall.

After the hearing, Detective Inspector Jon Fanner from Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said: “My thoughts and sympathies are with the family of Aimee Rose.

“Mark Sandland denied the charge of murder but accepted that he was responsible for her death and has admitted manslaughter.

“In fact he had a sudden loss of temper while he was looking after his five week old baby daughter in her own home.

“I welcome the plea to manslaughter. The judge found there were significant aggravating circumstances and today he has been sentenced to eight years in prison.”

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