Skylar Cowan Gallagher was just 14-weeks-old when she was left in the care of her father, Stephen Gallagher, who got so drunk while looking after her that he urinated under a fish tank
A baby girl died after her dad tried to change her nappy while he was “horribly drunk”, a court heard.
Skylar Cowan Gallagher was just 14-weeks-old when she was left in the care of her father, Stephen Gallagher.
When mum Angela Cowan left the family home in Country Durham to go out for the night on June 27, Skylar was asleep in her bouncy chair in the living room.
She returned early the next morning and found her daughter lying face down on a rug dead, reports Chronicle Live .
Gallagher, who had been drinking heavily and had urinated under a fish tank, was asleep and when he woke he said he did not know what had happened.
A judge said the evidence suggested he had tried to change Skylar’s nappy while heavily intoxicated and she ended up on the rug without a nappy on.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the little girl, who had no injuries, could not be revived and died of asphyxiation.
Jailing Gallagher for two-and-a-half years for causing or allowing the death of a child, Judge John Milford QC said Skylar had died “through the over-indulgence of her father.”
The judge told the 35-year-old: “You had started drinking that evening at about 7pm.
“You continued to do so and got yourself horribly drunk, so drunk that at some point on that night you actually relieved yourself in the sitting room, under the fish tank.
“You were so drunk you have no memory of what occurred and what led to Skylar’s death.
“One has to infer from the evidence what must have happened.
“There came a time, at around midnight, when you removed Skylar from the safety of her bouncy chair and attempted to change her nappy, which was dirty. You were so drunk you were unable to do so.
“So it was, she was found just after 5am, on her mother’s return. She was lying face downwards on the rug by the sofa with no nappy.
“Whether you placed her there, whether she fell there, whether she rolled off the sofa to get there, is a matter of speculation.
“The one place that baby should not have been was face down on the rug, so young that she was unable to right herself onto her back.
“In a case such as this the harm is extreme, it involved the death of a defenceless infant.”
Responding to a request by Gallagher’s legal team that his sentence be suspended, Judge Milford added: “I would not entertain suspension in a case such as this, where a defenceless child meets their death through the over-indulgence of the father.”
The court heard Skylar had been born on March 16 and was healthy despite arriving seven weeks early.
During police interview Gallagher had been unable to say how much exactly he had had to drink but there were 11 empty cans of lager and cider found by the police, the court heard.
The baby’s mother had had “two or three”.
Prosecutor Jo Kidd said: “Angela Cowan was due to return at some point in the early hours of that morning.
“However, during the course of the early hours had gone to a friend’s home, fallen asleep and did not return to the family home until shortly after 5am.
“When she arrived home, she went into the living room to find the defendant asleep on the sofa and Skylar essentially dead on the living room rug.”
The court heard a post mortem revealed no external injuries on the baby and the prosecution did not suggest there was any intentional act to harm her.
Statements taken from both sets of grandparents described Gallagher as a “doting father” who has been left crushed by what he did.
Anne Richardson, defending, said Gallagher, of Hepscott Avenue, Blackhall Colliery,County Durham, has always blamed himself for what happened.
Miss Richardson said: “He cannot explain to the court or the police or anybody exactly what happened that night.”
“He can never turn back the clock and for him, as for the rest of the extended family, this remains an utter tragedy.”
After the case, Detective Inspector Carl Moss said: “Our thoughts remain with Skylar’s family after her tragic and unnecessary death.”
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