Man who 'snuffed out' daughter's life by shaking her is jailed

Binman, 32, who ‘snuffed out’ his two-month baby daughter’s life by shaking her to death in a rage after she woke him up crying is jailed for seven years

  • Joseph Ray, 32, was charged after near seven year probe into death of baby Ava
  • He was jailed for seven years for shaking his two-month-old daughter to death
  • Judge Lady Stacey said at High Court in Glasgow he had ‘snuffed out’ her life

A binman who ‘snuffed out’ the life of his two-month-old baby daughter by shaking her when she woke him with her crying was today jailed for seven years.

Joseph Ray, 32, carried out the fatal attack on tiny Ava Ray at their flat in Prestonpans, East Lothian on November 1 2012. 

He was woken by her crying and in anger shook her to death in what a court was told was a ‘momentary loss of control’.  

Ray was originally charged with murder after a near seven year probe into the death, but pled guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide.

Jailing him at the High Court in Glasgow judge Lady Stacey told Ray: ‘As you know Ava was entitled to look to you for love, affection and support. 

Joseph Ray, 32, (pictured) has been sentenced to seven years in jail for the death of baby Ava Ray at their flat in Prestonpans, East Lothian, on November 1, 2012

Baby Ava Ray, who died at two months old after being in the care of her father Joseph Ray 

‘You failed in that and your failure had terrible consequences.

‘I accept this was caused by momentary loss of control. She was a tiny baby and you should have treated her with care and attention.

‘Ava’s life was snuffed out just as she should have been able to look to you for support. 

‘She was a much loved child and what you did took that child’s life.’

Defence QC Shelagh McCall said: ‘Mr Ray’s explanation for what happened is he had a long working day, his partner Lauren Scott was out and he was left with the care of the baby.

‘He fed her and put her down as usual and he was awoken by her crying. After very little sleep and feeling overwhelmed and angry he shook her twice.

‘He still struggles to understand that what he did had such a catastrophic outcome.’

Ms McCall said the case had taken for long to come to court because of ‘contrasting medical views’ and added that at one point it was thought Ava may have had a problem with blood clotting which could have explained her injuries.

Baby Ava, who was born on September 3 2012, was the first child for Ray and his partner Lauren Scott.

 Judge Lady Stacey said at High Court in Glasgow her father Ray had ‘snuffed out’ Ava’s life

It was concluded Ava had died due to a ‘head injury’, that had been ’caused by trauma’

Midwives had been ‘happy’ at how they were coping with the newborn.

But, prosecutor Ashley Edwards QC said the couple had arguments after the birth mainly over who would do night time feeds.

On the day of the killing, Ava was left in the care of Ray, as Lauren had gone to work at a local bar at 6.30pm.

Around 10.50pm, Ray raced to a neighbour house and said his daughter was ‘cold to the touch’.

Miss Edwards said : ‘He was described as upset and crying.’

A 999 call was made and paramedics found Ava ‘white in colour, limp and unresponsive.’

Ava was rushed to Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children where she died the next morning.

Ray was sentenced to seven years in jail by a judge at the High Court in Glasgow (pictured) after prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to the charge of culpable homicide, reduced from murder

Tests revealed her brain had been starved of oxygen and her death was initially treated as ‘unascertained’.

Miss Edwards then told how, between 2014 and 2018, that ‘various experts’ were consulted about what happened.

She went on: ‘Following protracted discussions…the medical consensus is now that the pattern of injury…was caused by trauma.’

It was concluded Ava had died due to a ‘head injury’.

Ray – who now lives elsewhere in Prestonpans – was held by police in October 2013, but not charged

It was in March 2019 that he first appeared in court in connection with his daughter’s death.

Ray, who had no previous convictions at the time of the killing, but has since been found guilty of two domestic assaults on Lauren Scott.

It is not known if the couple are still together.

Lauren was not in court to see Ray, who appeared by video link, sentenced. 

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