Little Thetford father found guilty of killing baby daughter
- Credit: Supplied by Norfolk Constabulary
A father has been found guilty of killing his baby daughter who died after suffering a catastrophic brain injury.
Christopher Easey, 31, of Ely Road, Little Thetford, had denied murdering his 14-week-old daughter Eleanor.
At Norwich Crown Court on March 30, he was convicted by a jury of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
He was also found guilty of neglect.
His co-defendant, Eleanor’s mother Carly Easey, age 36, of Elizabeth Drive, Chedburgh, was found guilty of one count of neglect.
Both had denied six counts against them that dated from September 12 to 20 December 20, 2019.
During the trial, which lasted more than 10 weeks, the court heard how Eleanor was taken to hospital on December 18, 2019 after being found unresponsive at home.
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A CT scan showed she had a significant head injury and recent bleeding between her skull and brain.
She was later transferred from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to Addenbrooke’s Hospital where doctors confirmed she had suffered a catastrophic brain injury.
Sadly, she died on December 20, 2019.
Tests showed that Eleanor had suffered bleeds to her brain on three separate occasions, the most recent within 48 hours of her being admitted to hospital, and multiple retinal haemorrhages.
Her injuries were consistent with non-accidental head trauma, possibly due to shaking, impact or a combination of both.
Detectives from the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team launched a murder inquiry.
A Home Office post-mortem examination established cause of death as a head injury, of the shaking/impact type along with multiple historic metaphyseal fractures and multiple rib fractures.
It also found she was malnourished.
During the investigation, officers discovered that Carly had concealed her pregnancy and Eleanor spent the first few weeks of her life in intensive care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.
In October, health visitors noticed bruising and scratches to Eleanor’s face, which Carly said were due to an ill-fitting car seat and the scratches were self-inflicted.
In November 2019 the family moved to Morton-on-the-Hill.
The couple’s friends, work colleagues and family members told detectives during the investigation how the parents fed Eleanor custard cream biscuits and lemon cheesecake, gave her squash to drink and left her home alone.
The couple were initially arrested on suspicion of assault GBH in December 2019.
Following the findings of the post-mortem, they were later re-arrested on suspicion of murder in January 2020.
When asked by medics how Eleanor had sustained the fatal injuries, Christopher said he had been forced to brake suddenly with Eleanor in the car on December 18.
He also claimed she would sometimes bang her head on her cot.
A police examination of the couple’s car didn’t find any evidence that it had been involved in a collision or a situation when the driver had forcibly applied the brakes.
In her interview, Carly couldn’t account for Eleanor’s injuries other than the bruising to Eleanor’s face.
Both parents were initially charged with murder.
However, evidence showed Carly was not present at the time Eleanor had suffered the brain injury that proved to be fatal, and prosecutors subsequently dropped the murder charge against her.
Det Insp Lewis Craske, who led the investigation, said: “My thoughts today, as they have been throughout this investigation and will always be, are with little Eleanor.
“She was only 14 weeks old when she died yet had 31 fractures to her fragile body and three separate bleeds on her brain.
“Eleanor’s parents, the very people who should have protected and loved her above everything and everyone else, failed her on an unimaginable scale from the moment she was born.
“She was neglected for much, if not all, of her short life. She deserved so much better.
“This has been a desperately sad, incredibly complex and highly emotive investigation for me and all those who have worked so very hard on bringing this case to court.
“I am extremely proud of and grateful for their dedication and commitment.”
Christopher Easey was remanded into custody and Carly Easey was released on court bail until their sentencing hearing on April 29, 2022.