Introduction and Facts
On 11th March 2016 John Burrill, a 31 year old father to 2 month old Daisy Mae Burrill, lost his temper and assaulted her. Sadly, three days later she died of her injuries. On 25th October 2016, Mr Burrill was convicted of her murder.
On 26th October he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term to be served of 18 years.
It seems that Daisy was not settling overnight, which is something that Mr Burrill dealt with by smoking cannabis. What exactly happened is unclear.
Mr Burrill initially said that Daisy had gone limp, but said that he did not know why. By the time of the trial, Mr Burrill accepted manslaughter, saying that after Daisy was crying – “I think the tiredness just took over and I really lost my rag and I threw her down on to the couch.”
The injuries were “consistent with [Daisy] being gripped by the legs and swung against a hard surface”, and the implication was that Mr Burrill had in fact done more than throwing her on the couch.
The only sentence that can be passed is one of life imprisonment, the key question for the Judge being what the ‘tariff’ – the period of time that Mr Burrill has to spend in prison before he can be considered for release.
It is clear that the case fell into the lower category, so there would be a 15 year starting point. Daisy’s age, and the fact that offence involved a breach of trust, are clearly aggravating features.
There are presumably some mitigating features, and Mr Burrill accepted killing Daisy unlawfully which usually is a mitigating feature. In the circumstances of the case, we would have expected the sentence to be lower than that by a year or so. However, we would not expect the Court of Appeal to interfere with the sentence however.