Daniel James Gallagher convicted of manslaughter in Good Friday drowning tragedy

When Shaylan Gallagher sees a glowing sunflower, she is taken back to the day her daughter Leah came into the world.

“When she was born, the first little onesie we put on her was covered in little sunflowers,” she said.

“His nickname has always been ‘Sunflower’.

“At his funeral, we all wore little sunflower pins.

But Leah never leaves her mother’s mind.

She was nine months old when she drowned in a bathtub at her father’s home in Hervey Bay on April 2 last year.

Last month Daniel James Gallagher, 27, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for leaving her unattended in the water.

Today he was sentenced by the Brisbane Supreme Court to 15 months in prison.

Daniel James Gallagher pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges last month.(Provided)

“Beyond Recklessness”

The court heard Gallagher initially left the bathroom to inspect an electrical problem outside the house before having a cigarette and then using his phone in the living room.

When he returned a few minutes later, he saw his daughter “floating face down” in the overflowing bathtub.

He immediately called triple-0 and attempted to resuscitate her, the court heard.

Crown prosecutor Chris Cook told the court there was “no doubt” Gallagher was remorseful, but said his daughter’s death was “no accident”.

“It was beyond reckless,” Mr Cook said.

“It was more than carelessness.

The court heard Gallagher had no criminal history, but there was a recent similar incident where he left his daughter unattended in 10 to 12 centimeters of water.

Defense barrister Andrew Hoare told the court his client had been ‘distracted by extraneous and irrelevant matters’ and failed to identify the risk of drowning, but there were ‘worse examples “of negligence.

“It remains, however, an offense of omission rather than direct or deliberate harm,” he said.

Gallagher had been out on bail and received a suspended five-year sentence after serving less than a third of the prison sentence.

Good Friday tragedy

Shaylan and Daniel Gallagher were high school sweethearts, but they separated in August 2020.

Mrs. Gallagher isn’t sure if she’ll ever come to terms with what happened, but she constantly relives it in her head.

“I got a phone call from Daniel saying Leah is unconscious, come here right now and the ambulance is here to do CPR,” she said.

“I started screaming and bawling my eyes out.

“I didn’t really get a chance to ask him what happened.”

Ms Gallagher and her son have moved away from family and friends for a fresh start in Brisbane.

“He talks a lot about her,” she said.

“There was one time when we were driving in the car, we weren’t talking and he wasn’t provoked, but he just started crying and saying he missed her.

A smiling baby is sitting in a high chair.
Ms Gallagher says her daughter never leaves her thoughts.(Provided: Shaylan Gallagher)

‘Cherish Every Moment’

Ms Gallagher hopes her daughter’s death will raise awareness about child safety.

“It’s about following your intuition,” she said.

“If you feel your child is unsafe somewhere, act accordingly.

“I think it’s just a constant reminder that you have your maternal instincts for a reason.”

She also has a message for other parents.

“Cherish every moment with your children, even in difficult times when you know they are having a hard time and just need a hug to calm down, or when they come to you in times of distress or in happy time,” she says.

“Just be there in the moment.

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