Father and mother jailed for cruelty to child
A young couple who put their baby daughter in front of a gas fire to warm her up when they found her dead causing horrific burns to her body, have both been jailed for neglect “over a third of her life.”
Leeds Crown Court heard it was not possible to determine the cause of death of Daniel Sheard and Lucy Damen’s 18-week-old daughter Kayleigh but she was found to have fractured bones, bruises and bite marks.
A post mortem revealed old fractures to her right shoulder, 17 separate fractures to her ribs, some of which had already healed, and marks that she had been bitten by another child.
She was found in September 2013 at their then home in Foldings Avenue, Cleckheaton , by paramedics strapped into her bouncy chair in front of the fire which was burning at maximum heat following a call from Sheard who claimed he had done that to try and wake her up.
Sheard, 24, recently of Indus Close, Heckmondwike was found guilty by a jury of cruelty by neglect through failing to get her medical aid while Damen, 22, admitted the charge.
They were previously charged with her manslaughter but that was dropped when it could not be proved she died from an unlawful act.
Jailing Sheard for six years and Damen for four and half years Judge Tom Bayliss QC said their behaviour amounted to “protracted if not long term neglect over one third of this child’s short life” but they were not being sentenced for causing her death.
He said the baby, who had thrived in her early months, would have been in pain from her arm and shoulder injury but they had clearly taken steps she was not seen by professionals during the weeks concerned.
The evidence also showed she had suffered two sets of rib fractures which were “non accidental injuries.”
Judge Bayliss said: “Each of you knew the injuries would suggest to any health care worker that the injuries were non accidental so you sought to conceal them.”
One rib fracture had been caused while the baby was still alive but he was prepared to accept that was done when Sheard made clumsy attempts to perform CPR on her.
They had tried to cover up the truth of what had happened to her “even in death” when they had changed her clothes, smothered her in Sudacrem and placed her in front of the fire to hide the delay in seeking help for her.
He accepted they were young and trying to cope with looking after a baby which brought its own pressures but “there is no excuse for what you did.”
He said Sheard had shown no remorse and lied in court during his trial.
“You both have proved unfit to ever look after children,” the judge told them.
Dad guilty of child cruelty after baby daughter died sat in front of fire at highest setting
A dad has been found guilty of child cruelty after the death of his 18 week-old baby daughter who was left in front of a gas fire on its highest setting.
Tragic Kayleigh Sheard was found by paramedics in her bouncer – smeared with Sudacrem antiseptic healing cream and declared dead minutes later.
She suffered burns to her face and also had bite marks and extensive fractures to her right shoulder and arm from the weeks before her death.
Despite her internal and external injuries her cause of death could not be determined and investigators were unable to say she died from an unlawful act.
Instead, her parents were charged with cruelty to a person under 16.
Her mother, Lucy Damen, 22, pleaded guilty to the offence several weeks ago but her father Daniel Sheard, 24, elected a trial.
Yesterday he was found guilty after a three-week hearing at Leeds Crown Court – and will be sentenced together with his wife in a few weeks.
The court heard that Sheard claimed he put little Kayleigh in front of the fire “to wake her up”.
He phoned for an ambulance around 4.10am on September 30 2013 saying she was in a collapsed state and felt hard.
He said she was fine when he put her bed, adding “I don’t know what happened”.
Prosecuting, Nicholas Campbell QC said: “The attendants found what turned out to be the body of Kayleigh, sitting in that bouncy chair in the living room.
“The gas fire on the was burning at is maximum heat.
“Kayleigh was dressed in a babygrow and a pair of white socks, her face was covered in Sudacrem, it was clear she had suffered burns to her face.
“There was evidence of both bites and bruises to her face, head and body.”
Kayleigh was pronounced dead just minutes after the attendants arrived.
Mr Campbell said the lack of inflamed tissue “indicated the burns could not have been caused while she was alive”.
The Crown said the couple had “neglected Kayleigh by failing to provide adequate medical care”.
Before granting Sheard bail, Judge Tom Bayliss QC told the court: “This is a very serious matter.”
The defendant did not react as the verdict was read out.
The couple, of Heckmondwike, West Yorks., are on bail until their sentence date.