Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Killer's sentence appeal rejected

Owain Huw Owen
Owain Huw Owen appealed against a 12-month jail term for manslaughter

A man who admitted the manslaughter of a girl who died years after he had shaken her as a baby failed to convince top judges his sentence was too harsh.

Owain Huw Owen, from Amlwch, Anglesey, was jailed for three years in 2001 after admitting inflicting grievous bodily harm on Shauna Erin Griffiths.

Shauna died of her injuries in 2007, aged seven, and Owen, 35, was jailed for 12 months in January this year.

His claim for a non-custodial sentence was rejected at London's Appeal Court.

Owen, of Penysarn, Amlwch, pleaded guilty in 2001 to inflicting grievous bodily harm on Shauna, his ex-girlfriend's child, in June 2000, and was jailed for three years.

The court heard that he had shaken the baby so violently in an attack in Porthmadog that she was left blind, brain-damaged and in a coma. Her arm was also broken.

Her adopted parents, her carers Dafydd Griffiths and Janice Robinson, were at her side when she died in August 2007.

Shauna Erin Griffiths
Shauna Erin Griffiths was brain damaged after Owen shook her as an infant

She was being discharged from hospital by ambulance to spend her final days at home - with her adoptive parents driving in the car behind - when she died.

Lady Justice Hallett told London's Appeal Court that paramedics stopped the ambulance to allow her adoptive parents to say their last goodbyes.

"She never made the journey home," the judge said, also paying tribute to the level of care shown by the couple.

Owen, a joiner, pleaded guilty at his manslaughter trial in January and was sent to prison for 12 months.

The trial judge accepted he had acted in a moment of sudden loss of control, and that he had tried to turn his life around in the meantime.

But he decided that only an immediate jail term was appropriate given the gravity of his crime.

Owen challenged his 12-month sentence with claims that a suspended sentence should have been imposed, but his case was rejected by Lady Justice Hallett.

The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Openshaw and Judge Francis Gilbert QC, dismissed arguments that "no proper purpose" had been served by returning Owen to prison.

'Deserved punishment'

"We disagree," she told the appeal court. "There was a purpose: to mark the death of Shauna and punish Owen, not only for destroying her quality of life and causing her years of pain and misery, but for killing her.

"He always knew that, if Shauna should die of the appalling injuries he inflicted, he might be called on to serve the rest of his deserved punishment," she added.

Owen's barrister, Simon Mills, said his client would always be haunted by remorse.

He has since battled to rebuild his life, making a good name for himself in the community where he works as a successful joiner, he said.

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