Man convicted of killing baby daughter 'after losing temper'

A man who killed his 16-week-old daughter after becoming "agitated" when he ran out of cannabis has been jailed for six years in the UK today.

Man convicted of killing baby daughter 'after losing temper'

A man who killed his 16-week-old daughter after becoming "agitated" when he ran out of cannabis has been jailed for six years in the UK today.

William Stephens, 25, who also used heroin and crack cocaine, lost his temper and shook "grizzly" and "crying" daughter Paris Vince-Stephens.

The injuries were so severe that Paris - described as a "peachy" and "healthy" child - died in hospital three days after collapsing at her home in Bristol.

Stephens, of Fonthill Road, Southmead, Bristol admitted shaking Paris while left to care for her by the baby's mother - his ex-girlfriend 19-year-old Danah Vince.

But a jury found Stephens, who has an IQ of 52 and cannot read, guilty of the baby's manslaughter in January this year while Miss Vince, of Mendip Road, Portishead, was acquitted of causing or allowing the death.

Stephens, who was assisted by an intermediary during the trial, showed no emotion as he was jailed for six years by Mr Justice Teare at Bristol Crown Court.

"The Crown's case was that you shook Paris after losing your temper with her. It is not known what she did that caused that loss of temper," the judge said.

"You yourself said that she was crying and it may have been that. The dreadful result of your actions was that Paris died."

The court previously heard evidence from psychiatrists who examined Stephens and placed his mental capacity at the bottom 1% of the population for his age, and the judge told Stephens his "serious learning disabilities" could have been a factor in the death.

Jurors were told how Stephens and Miss Vince, who both admitted using drugs, had a "volatile" relationship with regular arguing and fighting. Miss Vince claimed Stephens had attacked her with a dog chain while pregnant.

Bristol social services and health workers had been working closely with the family for at least a year.

During that period, there were 13 meetings between Miss Vince and social services - the last on January 9 just two days before Paris was injured - and another five with a health visitor.

Miss Vince signed two "voluntary agreements" with social workers, which included banning Stephens from her home and reporting incidents of domestic violence.

A series of actions were later agreed at a meeting held between Stephens, a heavily pregnant Miss Vince, a social worker and a health visitor. But despite this, Stephens continued to visit the flat and live with his partner.

In November last year, Stephens was handed a restraining order at Bristol Magistrates' Court, preventing him from contacting Miss Vince until May 2013.

The same day, Miss Vince told social workers that she did not want any further contact and signed an agreement confirming she would keep him away from her home.

But the order and her agreement were soon breached - with neighbours often hearing doors slamming, shouting and sobbing coming from the flat.

Miss Vince told police that on the day Paris suffered the fatal injuries Stephens had arrived at her flat at around 3.30am with his dog.

Later that morning, they had argued about a £10 note missing from her pocket and the row became violent. Miss Vince then left Paris in Stephens' care while she attended a doctor's appointment.

That afternoon, Paris was again left alone with her father while Miss Vince went to a cash machine and purchased cannabis and toilet rolls from a neighbour.

Paris was admitted to Bristol Children's Hospital that afternoon having suffered "catastrophic and fatal head injuries" and died three days later when her life support machine was switched off.

Examinations on Paris' body by experts found she had either been shaken or suffered a head injury from hitting her head against a soft surface, or a combination of both.

Christopher Quinlan QC, prosecuting, said Stephens had a string of previous convictions for violence between 2006 and 2010, including punching a pregnant woman and assaulting a police officer and had been handed community orders, cautions, reprimands and warnings for the offences.

Ignatius Hughes QC, representing Stephens, said there was no evidence of any other violence towards Paris by Stephens.

He said Stephens had been subjected to attacks in prison, including scalding water being thrown at his face and group attacks, due to the nature of his offending.

Speaking after the case, James Ward, crown advocate for the Crown Prosecution Service South West, described the case as "difficult".

"Some people may consider that six years for killing a child is inappropriate but I want the community to understand that the defendant was charged with manslaughter," Mr Ward said.

"He didn't intend to kill the baby, nor did he intend to cause it really serious harm. Also, the defendant does have serious learning difficulties, his IQ is between 52 and 54. He lost control when he had that baby, probably because it cried."

Mr Ward added that enforcing a restraining order could only take place if the person it protects contacts the police.

The Bristol Safeguarding Children Board has launched a serious case review, which is due to be published next year.

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