Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A judge says Kandyce Downer has shown no remorse over the death of 18-month-old Keegan, which followed months of systematic abuse.
13:49, UK,Wednesday 04 May 2016
Keegan was murdered in September 2015
A mother-of-four has been jailed for life for murdering an 18-month-old girl - months after she was made her legal guardian.
Kandyce Downer was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years after being convicted of killing the toddler at the family home in September 2015.
It took just three hours for jurors to return a guilty verdict at Birmingham Crown Court.
A post-mortem examination had revealed that Keegan, formerly known as Shi-Anne, died from a combination of old head injuries, blunt trauma to the chest and septicaemia.
More than 200 external and internal injuries were found on the toddler's body, experts said - including broken ribs which would have made it very painful for her to breathe.
The jury was also told about an untreated spinal leg fracture which would have made the slightest movement agony for Keegan. 
Kandyce Downer
Detectives believe the systematic abuse had started three months before Keegan died - and Downer had never sought medical help for the child, nor registered her with a GP.
Keegan was taken away from her biological mother, who was a heroin addict, shortly after birth and she was subsequently placed into foster care.
Downer, a member of her extended family, became the toddler's legal guardian when she was 10 months old.
During sentencing, Mrs Justice Frances Patterson told Downer: "It is a horrible tale of callous conduct and at no stage have you showed any remorse.
"Why you changed from a loving mother to a brutal attacker of a defenceless child is a mystery."
The judge described Downer as "vicious and unfeeling", and told the court the injuries Keegan had suffered were so severe they would have caused brain damage and affected her development when she was older.
Mrs Justice Patterson added: "The bruising and injuries to Keegan's face, head and frenuli (mouth tissue) would have been evident to her carers.
"These injuries would have been caused by a hard slap, a punch, or forcing a feeding bottle into her mouth.
"Keegan suffered considerably in the last days and months of her life."
A Serious Case Review is under way following Keegan's death, and the NSPCC has called on the investigation to examine why a Special Guardianship Order was used to place the vulnerable toddler with Downer.
"Little Keegan did not deserve to be treated so abhorrently in her short life," a spokesman for the charity added.
"We hope this sentence will serve as a warning to deter others who would subject children in their care to such astonishing cruelty."
Following the conviction, Detective Inspector Harry Harrison had said: "What Downer subjected Keegan to was barbaric, inhuman and evil.
"The death of one so young is always tragic, but it is horrifying to think of the amount of violence and suffering this young child must have endured in the last few months of her short life in the hands of someone she should have been able to trust."