May 2001

Father jailed for killing baby daughter

A father from West Lothian who killed his new-born baby and maimed her twin sister has been given a 11-year jail sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The judge Lord MacLean ordered that Stuart Imrie, 20, should be detained for 11 years to be followed by four years strict supervision to protect the public from his “irrational violence”.

The court had heard how the blows and shaking which Imrie had inflicted on his daughters, when they were less than a month old, had resulted in injuries more usually seen in road accidents.

Stephanie died in hospital despite the efforts of staff to save her life.

At first doctors thought she had suffered from a form of cot death, but they raised concerns following a post mortem.

Imrie had been accused of murdering Stephanie at the home he shared with girlfriend Ann Andrews, 18, and her parents at in Logan Way, Knightsridge, Livingston, in October 2000.

His plea to a reduced chare of culpable homicide halted his earlier trial.

He also admitted severely injuring her twin sister Hannah, who suffered catastrophic brain damage.

It is not known how badly she will be handicapped.

Kiss of life

Lord MacLean told Imrie: “One of the difficulties I have in sentencing you arises from the fact that, really, these crimes are unexplained.”

The judge said it was not a case of a young and immature father losing his temper with children when he could not cope with their crying.

Highlighting the tragedy of the case, he said: “There are many people in this world who long to have children and cannot have them.”

Before Imrie changed his plea, Ms Andrews had told the court how she desperately tried to give her dying baby the kiss of life.

The babies, born prematurely, had been out of hospital less than two weeks.

Expecting twins

Their mother described “a hollow sound” – like a slap on the back – just before Imrie told her something was wrong with Stephanie.

Ms Andrew, a former tele-sales worker and care assistant, told how jobless Imrie moved in with her about the Christmas of 1999. They had been going out together for about four months by then.

The following February – when she was only 17 – she found she was pregnant and a month after that discovered she was expecting twins.

“I was shocked but happy,” she told the court.

The babies were born, six weeks early, on September 18 – weighing in at 4lb 12oz and 3lb 11oz – but suffered no health problems and left hospital about October 4.

Stephanie died in the early hours of October 15.

Imrie was accused of assaulting Hannah between October 4 and October 18 when the injuries were discovered.

Hannah was likely to suffer learning difficulties and doctors had noticed some difficulty in her movements as a result of the brain damage, the court heard.

Patholigist Anthony Busuttil said Stephanie had suffered bleeding into her brain as the result of a blow on the head.

He had found her liver had been “pulped” by Imrie’s grip on her body.

Riven with remorse

When Imrie returned to court to be sentenced on Friday defence advocate Edgar Prais QC said Imrie had difficulty coming to terms with what he had done and was “riven with remorse.”

The lawyer detailed how Imrie had been taken into care when his dad was jailed for raping a little girl.

Before then Imrie had suffered assaults at the hands of his father and the boy and his twin brother were later bullied at school.

The lawyer suggested a link between Imrie’s childhood and what he had done to his baby daughters.