A dad who “snapped” and shook his baby daughter to death when she would not stop crying has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 14 years.
A judge told Philip Peace his crime against five-month-old Summer would ‘cast a shadow’ over him and his family for the rest of his life.
The 43-year-old, from Dudley, has now started his lengthy term behind bars after a jury convicted him of murder.
Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court today, Justice Thomas Linden told him: “This was a brief loss of temper on your behalf with no pre-meditation. I accept your actions were out of character. I accept you didn’t intend to kill her.
“But the jury found you intended to cause her really serious harm. I accept after she collapsed you did what you could to assist during the 999 call under the supervision of the operator. It is clear to me you are very upset and regretful about what happened.
“In this there is a sense or remorse although you continue to deny your offence against Summer. These events have been a tragedy for Summer above all. Nothing can alter that fact, but what you have done will cast a long shadow above you and your family for the rest of your lives.”
The prosecution case was that Peace lost control with Summer because she had been ‘difficult’ to look after and was crying for more than an hour on the afternoon of September 8, 2017.
They argued the defendant shook her and also inflicted a blunt force trauma to her head, which caused her to collapse and slip into cardiac arrest.
Summer died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital around 25 hours later despite the attempts of medics, including paramedics who arrived at Peace’s home within three minutes and those at Russells Hall Hospital where she was initially taken.
Justice Linden described Summer as a ‘delightful, happy baby, in rude health’ with no reason to fear her life would be cut short in the way it was.
But he said Peace’s ‘frustration grew’ because she was crying and he blamed her for the situation.
The judge concluded the fatal injuries must have been inflicted some time between the defendant calling his partner and then 999.
Justice Linden told him: “It is clear the jury concluded that, between those two calls, you snapped and, at the very least, shook Summer so hard her head moved on the axis between her skull and neck with sufficient violence to cause significant damage.
“This, in turn, caused Summer’s immediate cardiac arrest and she collapsed.”
The judge told Peace he was aware of the ‘likely risks and consequences of his actions’ stating what he experienced that afternoon was ‘nothing out of the ordinary for parents’.
Turning to Peace’s background, it was revealed he had a conviction for handling stolen goods aged 17 but nothing for violence.
Justice Linden added: “There has never been any evidence you are prone to violence or losing your temper with members of your family or others.
“The court received unchallenged evidence you co-operated fully with police. You denied you had shaken Summer which the jury found to be untrue. There was no cause for concern about you from any member of your family.
“There was unchallenged evidence you were and are a loving partner and father. There had never been anything to suggest you might lose your temper and act violently towards your children. Their (Peace’s family) reaction to the allegation against you was one of disbelief.
“Of course, the jury’s verdict shows the witnesses who gave evidence about your character cannot have been aware of the full picture. But I accept their evidence as far as it goes.”
Michael Turner QC, defending, called for Peace to be sentenced on the basis the injuries were inflicted during a ‘momentary loss of control’ which must have only taken ‘seconds’.
He said the incident was ‘completely our of character’, that Peace was a ‘loving father’ who made ‘immediate attempts’ to save Summer’s life and who was remorseful for his actions.
Mr Turner contested the argument Peace inflicted any blunt force trauma and declared ‘this was not anything other than a shaking incident’.
Peace, latterly of Himley Road, was told he must serve 14 years minimum before a parole board could review his case.
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