Detective describes Norfolk baby manslaughter as his 'hardest case'
- Credit: Brittany Woodman, Archant Norfolk
The detective who led the investigation into the death of a three-month old baby has described it as the "hardest" case he has ever had to manage.
Eleanor Easey suffered a number of catastrophic injuries, including 31 rib fractures, as well as broken arms and legs and died on December 20, 2019.
After a 10-week trial and more than 20 hours of deliberation by a jury, on Wednesday her father Christopher Easey was found guilty of her manslaughter and neglect. Her mother Carly was found guilty of neglect.
Detective Inspector Lewis Craske, from Norfolk Constabulary's Major Investigation Team (MIT), said it had been a case which greatly affected him.
Speaking after the trial, Mr Craske said: "I've worked on the Major Crime Team for over six years now.
"It has easily been the hardest investigation I have ever had to manage.
"I have personally found it emotionally demanding.
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"It is hard to believe that someone could cause such catastrophic injuries to a vulnerable baby in this way."
The trial heard extensive evidence about the nature of the injuries Eleanor had endured.
She 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.
The couple’s friends, work colleagues and family members told detectives during the investigation how her parents had fed Eleanor custard cream biscuits and lemon cheesecake, gave her squash to drink and left her at home alone.
"I learnt very early on that Eleanor had a broken leg and arm and that she was malnourished," Mr Craske said.
"This was shocking enough but when the result of numerous broken ribs came some months in to the enquiry it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do to brief the team on the amount of harm that had been caused to baby Eleanor in her short life."
Mr Craske said his team have worked to the best of their ability "for Eleanor" and with the infant always on their mind.
He said: "I felt it was our duty to get to the truth as to what had happened to Eleanor."
Mr Craske said at no point during interviews with police did the defendant show any sense of remorse.
He went on: "The murder charge (against Carly) was dropped as medical evidence suggested that Eleanor received her fatal injuries while Carly was at work.
"I think Carly had little regard for her daughter," he added. "This is evidenced in the lack of nourishment and abandonment provided by witnesses as well as her own evidence."
Since Eleanor's death Christopher Easey came up with multiple excuses to try and explain his daughter's fatal injuries, including that he had been forced to brake suddenly with Eleanor in the car after coming back from taking Carly to work on December 18 2019.
But a police examination of the couple’s car did not find any evidence that it had been involved in a collision or a situation when the driver had forcibly applied the brakes.
Christopher Easey also claimed she would sometimes bang her head on her cot, that he had dropped her while feeding her and she had hit her head and that he had given her a "resuscitative shake" after she stopped breathing.
Mr Craske added: "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 and Carly Easey will be sentenced on April 29 at Norwich Crown Court.
Both parents had been on bail throughout the 10-week trial. The judge extended the bail of Carly Easey to reappear at court for sentencing.