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Father who shook baby to death told hospital daughter whose heart had stopped was being ‘a drama queen’

Miyah Warnock was pronounced dead one month after she was rushed to Bristol Children’s Hospital  (Wiltshire Police)
Miyah Warnock was pronounced dead one month after she was rushed to Bristol Children’s Hospital (Wiltshire Police)

A drug-dealing father who fatally injured his three-month-old daughter and retreated to his room to smoke cannabis while paramedics sought to save her has been jailed.

Samuel Warnock, 29, claimed that he had fallen down the stairs with his daughter Miyah and told his partner that bruising on her body was due to a “loss of sensitivity in his hands” which affected how he handled her.

Officers from Wiltshire Police were called to the couple’s address in Cornfield Road, Devizes, on 20 September 2021 after Miyah became unresponsive while in the care of her father.

A court heard that Warnock told a receptionist at Bristol Children’s Hospital that his daughter was being a “drama queen”, and continued to deal Class A and B drugs over the course of the month she spent in the intensive care unit.

Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, she died on 19 October having suffered a traumatic brain head injury which had left her with “unsurvivable brain injuries”.

Appearing at Winchester Crown Court in January, Warnock pleaded guilty to manslaughter, shortly before he was set to stand trial charged with Miyah’s murder, and has been jailed for 14 years.

Jasmine Warnock accepted her partner’s explanations for Miyah’s bruising (Facebook)
Jasmine Warnock accepted her partner’s explanations for Miyah’s bruising (Facebook)

His partner Jasmine Warnock was not present when her baby collapsed on 20 September, but pleaded guilty to child cruelty by failing to protect Miyah from assault.

A judge heard that the couple had embarked on a relationship in 2017, which had been volatile and unhappy. Both smoked cannabis and during a separation in 2018, Ms Warnock reported him to the police for his aggressive behaviour, jealousy and his persistent texting and habit of turning up at her workplace.

Despite being aware of his aggressive behaviour, they resumed their relationship and welcomed Miyah in June 2020.

The following month, Warnock was arrested outside a club for being drunk and disorderly, as well as assaulting an emergency worker while resisting arrest.

During the course of her short life, Miyah’s maternal grandparents had noticed bruising around her torso which appeared to look like fingermarks. Such was their concern, Ms Warnock’s father asked his daughter to send him a daily photograph of Miyah and told her “he wanted to keep an eye on his granddaughter”.

Friends also told police that they had been concerned for Warnock’s “rough handling” of his infant daughter, and that he had been seen smoking cannabis near her Moses basket.

On another occasion, he had picked Miyah up with little support to her head, and was seen moving her body back and forth before stating it was “like a scene of the Lion King”.

When questioned about her bruising, Warnock told his partner that he had fallen down the stairs after his knee had given away, and blamed numbness in his fingers.

Shortly before the fatal incident, Miyah was left in the sole care of her father after her mother returned to her work as a chef in a local pub.

“There is a pattern of messages that he was increasingly resentful and angry and jealous and that is notwithstanding the fact that he had quite a lot of support from both maternal and paternal grandparents,” prosecutor Caroline Carberry KC said.

Samuel Warnock has been jailed for 14 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter (Wiltshire Police)
Samuel Warnock has been jailed for 14 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter (Wiltshire Police)

Just 25 minutes after being left alone with Miyah, Warnock called 999 to report that she had “thrown a fit” and had stopped breathing.

Upon the arrival of police and paramedics, Warnock became agitated and aggressive while his partner was visibly upset, before he retreated to his room to smoke cannabis.

By the time Miyah arrived at hospital, her heart was beating but she was deeply unconscious, while Warnock told a receptionist that “his baby had been unwell yesterday, she’d had a fit and was being a drama queen”.

“There was an overall sense this was a strange response to the situation,” Ms Carberry KC said.

While she remained critically unwell in hospital, text messages on his phone showed that Warnock had continued to deal in Class A and B drugs. Despite reports that he has responded unusually to his daughter’s condition, the judge noted that people often react in “quite bizarre ways” during stressful circumstances.

A CT and MRI scan found a pattern of injuries in keeping with excessive shaking, with widespread haemorraghes behind the eyes.

In his police interview, Warnock claimed that Miyah had woken up crying and that he had been “bobbing her up and down” before she fell unconscious.

Despite his initial denials, he pleaded guilty to her manslaughter, with the court told that the pleas were accepted following consultation with the chief crown prosecutor and the baby’s maternal grandparents.

Representing Mrs Warnock, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins KC said that her client entered her guilty plea on the basis that she did not witness any assault on Miyah.

“Very simply, her case is that she ignored those red flags and concerns of her own family about her then-partner, now husband, and his volatility,” Ms Carberry KC said. “The bruises to her baby were obvious to her and ought to have served as a warning sign that her baby was abused but she chose to then and for some time, to believe Samuel Warnock when he provided her with excuses as to how their daughter was injured.

“Her offending was that she failed to protect her baby daughter from assault. I make it clear she is not responsible for assaulting the baby on any occasion, she was not present when the fatal injury was inflicted.”

Sentencing the pair, the judge, Mrs Justice May, said that the death came against a background of domestic abuse by Warnock against his wife.

She described Warnock as a “reckless and irresponsible new father, prone to anger, easily frustrated, profoundly needy and dangerously incapable of caring properly for a tiny new baby”.

The court heard that Mrs Warnock was a woman of previous good character, who had been the victim of coercion and control at the hands of Warnock.

She has been handed a three-year community order and must undertake a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

In a short tribute to Miyah, grandparents Andrew and Michelle Rideout said: “Miyah was our princess. We are devastated by the loss of our granddaughter.

“We will never get over losing her.”