JOBY Rowe has been jailed for nine years with a non-parole period of six years for shaking his baby daughter Alanah to death in Heathcote in 2015.
Rowe, 26, was sentenced in the Supreme Court in Bendigo on Friday.
Justice Terry Forrest described the crime as having a widespread impact for families involved, and the wider community.
“The community trusts adults charged with the care of children to do so responsibly and conscientiously,” he said.
“The emotional rawness for members of Alanah’s family is still felt almost three years after her death.”
Rowe was found guilty of child homicide following two trials in the Supreme Court. The first jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
The court was told Rowe was unable to stop three-month-old Alanah from crying while his then-partner Stephanie Knibbs was at work on August 29, 2015.
Alanah was crying and was unsettled while Rowe drove Ms Knibbs to the Union Hotel earlier in the day where she worked, and continued to be unsettled when Rowe and Alanah returned home together.
A post-mortem found Alanah’s injuries were inflicted from “head trauma from rapid acceleration and deceleration, and rotational forces”. A shaking motion was determined as the cause of death.
When Ms Knibbs arrived home from work, she found Rowe standing over baby Alanah and saying words to the effect of “something is wrong with Alanah”.
Alanah was “limp” and blood was coming from her nose. Resuscitation was attempted and she was flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
She was pronounced dead the following day.
Justice Forrest took into account Rowe’s subsequent forced separation from his baby son due to ongoing criminal matters, the stress of two criminal trials, his lack of prior and subsequent offending and the fact his time in custody would be more “burdensome” than other prisoners, in determining the sentence.
Justice Forrest said despite Rowe’s history as a “caring” parent, his decision to conceal the cause of Alanah’s death from doctors made it “grave offending” that demanded “exacting punishment”.
He failed to tell paramedics at the scene, and doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital, about the true circumstances leading up to Alanah’s fatal injuries.
“I consider there is to be a distinction drawn between remorse and grief,” Justice Forrest said.
“I accept that you grieve for Alanah. That does not translate into remorse in circumstances where for nearly three years now you have denied your role in her death.
“I consider that your failure to admit to Alanah’s early treating paramedics, and [the doctor], the true circumstances of your role in her condition constitutes a circumstance of aggravation.
“Given the jury finding that you violently shook Alanah, you must have been aware of this fact yet you concealed it from those to whom this information may have been vitally important.
“This does you no credit at all.”
Rowe continued to deny his involvement throughout the legal proceedings.
Rowe also had no mental or psychiatric conditions. He will likely serve his sentence in protective custody, the court heard.
During his plea hearing earlier this week, Ms Knibbs and other family members had their first opportunity to detail to the court the impact of Alanah’s death.
Ms Knibbs’ statement spoke of the ongoing pain.
“When Alanah took her last breath I felt as though I took mine,” it read.
“Alanah should be starting kinder. But instead we now visit her in the cemetery. I will never hear her tell me she loves me.
“I dream about Alanah, I can hear her crying.”
Rowe remained silent when Justice Forrest read out the sentence.
He has already served 484 days in pre-sentence detention and will be eligible for parole in 2023.