Father who 'snapped' in a loss of temper has been jailed for murder

Father who ‘snapped’ in a loss of temper has been jailed for murder after shaking his defenceless baby daughter so hard it left her with fatal brain damage

  • Philip Peace, 43, was jailed for 14 years today at Birmingham Crown Court
  • Peace, from Dudley, was accused of causing fatal injuries to his daughter 
  • Summer died on September 9, 2017 after being rushed to Russells Hall Hospital
  • Peace denied charges of murder and manslaughter but was convicted by a jury 

A father who ‘snapped’ in a loss of temper has been jailed for a minimum of 14 years after shaking his baby daughter so hard she was left with fatal brain damage.

Philip Peace, 43, from Dudley, was convicted of the killing, after a five-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, on Thursday.

Peace was jailed for life with a minimum term of 14 years when he was sentenced on Friday. 

He had been alone caring for his crying daughter when, in the space of just over two minutes, he ‘grasped Summer tightly around the chest and squeezed and shook her’ with such force, she suffered unsurvivable injuries.

Philip Peace, 43, (pictured) who ‘snapped’ in a loss of temper has been jailed for a minimum of 14 years after shaking his baby daughter so hard she was left with fatal brain damage 

Mr Justice Thomas Linden QC, sentencing, told him: ‘It is clear that the jury concluded… you snapped.’

Jurors had heard how the five-month-old sustained a catalogue of injuries to her tiny body, including multiple bleeds on the brain, bleeding in both eyes and over a dozen rib fractures, during an incident at the family home in Dudley, West Midlands, on September 8, 2017.

Experts testified at trial that she was shaken with such force ‘her brain rattled inside her skull’ and that the bleeding in and around the eyes was ‘at the extreme end’ of what doctors would usually see in such cases.

She also had an injury to her left ear consistent, the judge found, with it having been inflicted by Peace when he ‘pulled her ear’ after he had ‘grasped it between thumb and forefinger’.

The judge said he ‘could not be sure’ that small fractures to the front of the baby’s rib cage, or Summer’s sternum, were not sustained during CPR efforts.

However, he accepted an expert’s view that fractures to the back of the rib cage ‘could only have occurred as a result of grasping and lateral squeezing of the rib cage with significant force’.

Philip Peace, from Dudley, West Midlands, Peace was jailed for life with a minimum term of 14 years when he was sentenced today. Pictured: Peace outside Birmingham Crown Court in January

The judge said: ‘I cannot know how often you shook Summer or precisely how long but her injuries indicate you shook her hard – by the fact she collapsed immediately and died just over a day later.’

Although the judge said Peace had acted ‘out of character’ and had ‘not intended to kill’ but rather inflict really serious harm, he highlighted how Summer’s father had denied shaking her at trial.

Peace also suggested paramedics may have caused the injury to Summer’s ear, when attaching a device to take the baby’s temperature as they took her to hospital, in a bid to save her life.

The judge told him: ‘Your case, which the jury clearly and rightly rejected, was that Summer’s brain and eye injuries were caused by you picking her up in a panic, after her collapse.’

He added: ‘The jury was entitled to proceed on the basis she was a normal child of her age and to conclude you had shaken her in a manner and with a level of violence which would obviously have caused her serious injury.’

Mr Justice Linden accepted evidence Peace was ‘a loving and committed partner and father’ whose relatives had seen nothing suggesting he might ‘act violently to children’.

However, he said: ‘There is no evidence of any stresses and demands on you above and beyond that ordinarily to be expected by parents of… very young children.’

‘Summer was a young baby and therefore highly vulnerable, she was at home and she had been left in your care,’ he added.

He had been alone caring for his crying daughter (pictured) when, in the space of just over two minutes, he ‘grasped Summer tightly around the chest and squeezed and shook her’ with such force, she suffered unsurvivable injuries

The judge said: ‘These events have been a tragedy – nothing can alter that fact.

‘What you have done will also cast a long shadow over you and your family for the rest of your lives.’

The jury convicted Peace of murdering his daughter, after three days of deliberations. 

He was accused of causing fatal injuries to his daughter Summer moments before he called an ambulance to rush her to Russells Hall Hospital.

She died on September 9, 2017, around 25 hours after paramedics were alerted.

Peace denied charges of murder and manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court, but jurors found him guilty of Summer’s murder after ten days of deliberations.

Mr Justice Thomas Linden QC, sentencing, told him: ‘It is clear that the jury concluded… you snapped’

The defendant’s barrister, Michael Turner QC, had pointed out that Summer’s mother had stood by Peace throughout the trial, arguing ‘she wouldn’t if she thought for one minute he was guilty’. 

The court heard how the father was looking after Summer alone on September 8, when he dialled 999 saying ‘something was wrong’ with her because there were large gaps in her breathing.    

Prosecutor Andrew Smith QC said paramedics arrived within minutes to find the baby ‘unresponsive, limp, struggling to breathe’ and with a ‘very weak pulse’.

Her airway and mouth were said to be full of milk, which was cleared, before she was taken initially to Russells Hall Hospital and then later transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

A scan revealed Summer suffered significant brain injuries that she ‘could not recover from’. 

Her condition was said to have deteriorated throughout the course of September 9 and she died at 5.44pm after it was agreed her life support could be turned off.

The jury was told she had sustained bruises to her arm and chest as well as 11 rib fractures to her sternum. She was also diagnosed with pneumonia.

The trial heard contrasting opinions from a number of medical experts.

Mr Smith argued her death was caused by the head injuries brought on by a ‘traumatic event’, stating the defendant lost control with his daughter because she had been ‘difficult’ to look after that afternoon. 

Mr Smith put it to the court that in that moment he ‘intended at the very least to cause really serious injuries to her’.

Peace denied shaking or doing anything to deliberately harm Summer.

Mr Turner argued a number of elements of the case simply did not ‘fit the crime’ including the defendant’s actions on the day.

He also pointed to the fact Summer’s mother stood by Peace throughout the trial saying ‘she wouldn’t if she thought for one minute he was guilty’.

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