A dad who violently shook his baby daughter has been jailed for 14 years for killing her.
Christopher Easey’s 14-week-old daughter Eleanor was found by pathologists to have sustained a catastrophic brain injury “consistent with having been violently shaken”, judge Mr Justice Edward Murray said.
Easey, 31, of Little Thetford, Cambridgeshire, was found guilty of manslaughter after jurors rejected his account that he “dropped Eleanor on her head having been distracted by the dogs barking”, the judge said.
Cops said Eleanor, who had been left home alone on several occasions, had been “neglected” for much of her life.
During the 10-week trial at Norwich Crown Court, the jury heard how Eleanor was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on 18 December 2019 after being found unresponsive at home.
Post-Mortem showed baby was poorly nourished
When asked by medics how Eleanor had sustained the fatal injuries, Easey said he had been forced to brake suddenly with Eleanor in the car on 18 December. He also said she would sometimes bang her head on her cot. A police examination of the couple’s car didn’t find any evidence that it had been involved in a collision or a situation when the driver had forcibly applied the brakes.
In her interview, the baby’s mum Carly Easey couldn’t account for Eleanor’s injuries other than the bruising to Eleanor’s face.
Both parents were initially charged with murder. However, evidence showed Carly was not present at the time Eleanor suffered the brain injury that proved to be fatal, and prosecutors subsequently dropped the murder charge against her.
The judge told Norwich Crown Court he was “sure” Easey was the one who “inflicted all the serious injuries Eleanor suffered”, which included 31 rib fractures.
He said the girl’s mother, “didn’t know (her) husband was injuring (their) baby and had done so on multiple occasions”.
Both 36-year-old Carly Easey, of Chedburgh, Suffolk, and Christopher Easey were found guilty of child cruelty.
Sally Howes QC, prosecuting, said a post-mortem examination recorded that Eleanor was poorly nourished, had a prominent ribcage and reduced muscle bulk in her limbs.
The judge said both parents had “at times given her diluted squash to drink instead of milk”, and described it as “wholly inappropriate” that she was given a lick of a custard cream biscuit.
He said both parents had “abandoned” Eleanor “on at least one occasion for a significant time”.
Carly Easey was sentenced to a 12-month community order with requirements to take part in a specified programme of activities.
Elizabeth Marsh QC, mitigating for Carly Easey, said Eleanor “was killed through no action or inaction” by her mother.
“She feels extreme guilty for failing to protect her baby from the man who deceived her,” she said.
Easey described as ‘inexperienced father’
Sally O’Neill QC, mitigating for Christopher Easey, said he will “carry to his grave… the knowledge what he did caused the injuries to his baby daughter”.
She described him as a “very inexperienced father”.
A scan showed Eleanor had a significant head injury and recent bleeding between her skull and brain.
She was later transferred from hospital in Norwich to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where doctors confirmed she had suffered a catastrophic brain injury.
She died on 20 December, 2019.
Eleanor was ‘neglected for much of her life’
Tests showed Eleanor had suffered bleeds to her brain on three separate occasions, the most recent within 48 hours of her being admitted to hospital.
A Home Office post-mortem examination established her cause of her death as a head injury.
Detective Inspector Lewis Craske, who led the investigation on behalf of the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, said: “Chris Easey has been found guilty of killing of his baby daughter and it is the awful truth that she died at the hands of the very man who should have taken care of her; someone who should have cared for her and shown unconditional love. Sadly, that wasn’t the case and little Eleanor was neglected for much if not all her very short life.
“Finding out what happened in that family during Eleanor’s life and on that terrible evening in December 2019 has always been our priority. I know we did that and presented our findings. This was a very emotive investigation, and the memories of it will remain with us for quite some time.”