A 23-year-old Kettering man who tried to blame the grieving mother of a one-year-old girl for her daughter’s death has today (Friday, February 1) been convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 17 years.
Ryan Coleman, 23, of No Fixed Abode, was found guilty at the end of a three week trial at Birmingham Crown Court of murdering one-year-old Evelyn.
Evelyn was found to have ‘car-crash like’ injuries including multiple bruising and bleeding injuries on her brain and spine, and 31 external injuries, including damage to both eyes.
Coleman refused to attend Birmingham Crown Court for sentencing and had stormed out on a number of occasions during the trial, including in the middle of cross-examination.
But the jury of seven men and five women returned their unanimous verdict in just over four hours.
Evelyn, aged 1, was found unresponsive at a property in Regent Street, Kettering, on April 26, 2018.
She was taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham but sadly died three days later.
During the trial, jurors heard how Evelyn had been subjected to a deliberate and violent assault at the hands of Coleman, causing ‘car crash’ like injuries – among the worst a medical expert had ever seen.
Coleman, who stormed out of court on a number of occasions during the trial, including leaving the stand in the middle of being cross-examined, failed to call 999 to get Evelyn help.
Instead it was Evelyn’s mother, called home from work by Coleman, who called emergency services.
Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Coleman continued to claim that Evelyn had become unresponsive due to falling off a 36cm-high toddler bed.
He then tried to blame Evelyn’s mother, who was at work at the time of the assault, by claiming that she had caused the injuries trying to rouse the little girl through resuscitation.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Stuart Hitchon, said: “Not only did Ryan Coleman murder a one-year girl, inflicting catastrophic injuries on her, he also put her mother and family through the trauma of a trial.
“Losing a child is the worst pain imaginable and Ryan Coleman made Evelyn’s mother relive it again and again at court. His actions alone caused Evelyn’s death and because of him, Evelyn’s mother is now unable to enjoy the many things involved in watching a child grow up.
“She will never be able to see Evelyn take her first steps, send her off on her first day at school, see what kind of personality she developed and what interests and hobbies she took up as she grew into a young adult – Ryan Coleman has taken all of those things away from her forever and this leaves a pain like no other.
“I am very pleased that we have managed to get justice for Evelyn and her family and I would like to commend them all for the bravery they have shown throughout the trial.
“There are no words or actions that can bring Evelyn back or make up for her loss but I hope the fact Ryan Coleman will now be behind bars for a long time to come will allow them some kind of peace in order to try and move forward.”
On sentencing, in which Ryan Coleman decided not to be present, Judge – Mrs Justice Sara Cockerill DBE, described Coleman’s “serious and violent assault on a defenceless baby”, how “having committed this terrible act” Coleman “failed to call emergency services”, how his story was “utterly lacking in credibility” and that he “showed no remorse for anyone but himself”.
Statement from Evelyn’s mum:
“The death of Evelyn – my beautiful, smiley angel, has left such heartache that no one person can heal. But my love for her leaves me with memories that no one can steal.
“Surviving the loss of my baby girl has been the hardest and most painful thing that I, my family and my children have ever had to endure.
“I have lost my whole life – my child, my baby, my normality. My life will never be the same again. Every day is a struggle and my grief overwhelms me – some days I cannot cope knowing that she is not here with us as she should be.
“These have been the longest and hardest months of my life. If it was not for my mum and my sister supporting me through everything I would no longer be here. I would never ever wish this pain on anyone. I have a hole in my heart that will never be filled again.
“Evelyn was such a happy baby – always smiling and even when she was in hospital with pneumonia, she still managed to smile. We will always remember Evelyn and together we will keep her memories safe with our own.
“Evelyn’s small footprints left the largest imprints on our lives. Mummy’s little pudding and baby angel. My love for her will never die and I will never forget my darling sweet angel, but I know God will love and protect her. I will never stop missing my baby.”