Man found guilty of shaking 13-day-old son to death and causing ‘irreversible’ brain damage
A man convicted of murdering his 13-day-old son in a "violent and unrestrained" shaking attack which left the child screaming in agony has been jailed for life.
Daniel Sanzone was convicted of causing catastrophic, irreversible brain damage to Joshua Millinson after inflicting what medical experts said were some of the worst injuries they had seen.
Jailing the 23-year-old for a minimum of 15 years, a judge told Sanzone he had been "unable to accept his mother would focus on him (Joshua) rather than exclusively on you" in the run-up to the fatal attack on October 24 last year.
Mr Justice Robert Jay, sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court, added that Sanzone had closed his heart towards his son and then shown "cowardice and moral weakness" in lying about what happened.
Sanzone was found guilty by a jury on Wednesday of murder and also child cruelty, in connection with two other attacks on the child which had left the baby with fractured ribs and legs.
The baby suffered a fatal collapse while alone with Sanzone in the lounge of their home in Whitburn Close, Wolverhampton.
Jurors had acquitted the child's mother Zoe Howell of causing or allowing the child's death, and she was in court to see Sanzone jailed.
Despite the child's grandmother Sharon Howell administering CPR at the scene and the best efforts of medics and doctors, Joshua died in hospital four weeks later.
It was only after his death that the baby's other injuries were discovered.
Speaking immediately after the sentence, Joshua's mother told reporters the sentence was "not long enough" and said Sanzone should "rot in hell" for his crime.
In court, the judge told Sanzone: "Joshua died on November 21 2015 after he had suffered catastrophic fatal head injuries on October 24.
"All the evidence points to the fact he was alone with you in the lounge, while your partner was in the kitchen preparing a bottle."
Mr Justice Jay said it caused him "considerable anxiety" to find that in shaking Joshua to death, Sanzone had "gripped his chest and used sufficient force to fracture his ribs".
He added: "I struggle with the idea you carried out just one violent shake.
"That would a-token to you a degree of control that I do not believe you have the capacity of exhibiting."
However, he told Sanzone he would sentence on the basis he shook him "just once, extremely violently, or several times, tightly gripping his chest throughout".
The judge also described Sanzone's account to the police after his arrest that the baby's grandmother may have been responsible for the baby's broken ribs, during her attempts to save the child, as lies.
He added: "Joshua's suffering as a result of this violent and unrestrained assault - he was screaming in pain as a result of the subarachnoid bleed for a minute or two."
Addressing Sanzone, who sat with his head in his hands in the dock, Mr Justice Jay said: "You've not admitted any responsibility for the death of your son or demonstrated any remorse.
"Your partner has endured over a year of additional pain.
"You should reflect on your cowardice and moral weakness."
He accepted Sanzone, who had a conviction for robbery in 2014, had "a difficult childhood" and had been "abandoned" by his family, instead growing up in foster care.
The judge said: "As a result, you are immature emotionally and treat all relationships as a means of obtaining affection, rather than giving it.
"You were unable to accept his mother would focus on him, rather than exclusively on you."
The trial heard Sanzone and Howell had been in a relationship for 18 months at the time of Joshua's assault, but had been "taking a break" although they were still living together.
During the hearing, David Mason QC, representing Sanzone, revealed his client had received two death threats in prison following his conviction.
After sentencing, Miss Howell said: "I hate him.
"I didn't think it was possible to hate this much."
She added: "I know I've got the justice my son deserved but it's not long enough, it's not long enough at all.
"He needs to rot in hell."