Parents who tried to cover up baby's death from neglect are jailed
THE PARENTS of an 18-week-old baby girl who tried to 'cover up' her death by putting her body in front of a gas fire have been jailed for 10 years.
Daniel Sheard, 24, and Lucy Damen, 22, were sentenced for the ‘wilful neglect’ after Kayleigh Sheard’s tiny body was found with bite marks and more than 16 fractures.
Judge Tom Bayliss, QC ruled that there was “no excuse” for what Sheard and Damen had done by failing to secure medical attention for the baby girl.
He also condemned them for showing “no remorse” throughout the court proceedings.
Sentencing Sheard to six years and Damen to four-and-a-half years today (Monday) Judge Bayliss said: “You have both proved yourselves unfit to ever look after a child, in my opinion.
“This is certainly a case of serious neglect for a third of this child’s short life.”
Kayleigh was found in front of a gas fire on its highest setting, smothered in Sudacrem antiseptic cream with extensive burns to her face, in September 2013.
The burns were determined to have been caused after her death.
Her parents had “manipulated the scene” and tried to “cover up” the circumstances surrounding her death because of a fear of social services after Sheard had spent most of his young life in care.
Judge Bayliss said: “You did this I am sure because you were fearful of social services and because you were having problems financially and socially, causing you to care more about yourselves than your daughter’s welfare.
“It led to a situation were you were deliberately concealing that child from the authorities.”
Leeds Crown Court heard that the couple, from Heckmondwike, had taken Kayleigh for her first round of inoculations in July and there had been no signs of neglect.
The pair, who have maintained their relationship since Kayleigh’s death three years ago, had taken their tiny daughter to Dewsbury Hospital after noticing changes in her stool.
There the doctor had noticed a bruise on her cheek, which was found to have been caused accidentally, and in June 2013 doctors referred her to social services.
Following that incident, Kayleigh suffered non-accidental fractures to her shoulder and arms and 16 fractured ribs, but no medical attention was sought.
Judge Bayliss said: “She [Kayleigh] suffered. She went from being a healthy, happy baby to a child whose weight had fallen.
“That child was failing to thrive. The cause of death was not ascertained.
“You are not being sentenced for being responsible for or having caused her death.
“I cannot neglect the circumstances around her death and the failure to seek medical attention.
“The criminal failure for which I must sentence you both - failure to take her to a doctor or hospital when she must have been in significant pain.
“It was, I am quite sure, deliberate.”
Sheard and Damen were also sentenced for failing to take their young daughter for a second round of inoculations, failure to take her to a doctor when she suffered bruises, bite marks and rib fractures.
Kayleigh suffered a final rib fracture “less than 12 hours” before she died and Judge Bayliss said the “only explanation” was that Sheard had tried to perform CPR on the youngster.
Judge Bayliss said: “When you found her in a collapsed state, it was a clumsy attempt to resuscitate her.
“When you found her, albeit in a collapsed state, she was still alive.
“You tried to revive her but I am sure you both must have made a deliberate decision to not call an ambulance.”
Judge Bayliss added: “Daniel Sheard, you appeared to take the lead and played the dominant role. You have shown absolutely no remorse.
“Lucy Damen, you were completely indifferent towards the child and you have also showed little remorse.”
Damen pleaded guilty to cruelty to a person under 16 and Sheard was found guilty of the same offence after trial.