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A 22-year-old man has been sentenced following the death of a 22-month-old girl in Northwich.
Brandon Heath, 22, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of manslaughter following a three week trial at Chester Crown Court.
He was sentenced to 13 years and six months imprisonment on Tuesday 8 March.
He was found not guilty of murder.
The court heard how on Sunday 30 August 2020, Heath called the North West Ambulance Service after finding the 22-month-old ‘collapsed’ on the floor having just got her out of her high chair.
Paramedics swiftly attended and found the child in the first floor bedroom, struggling to breathe with an abnormal swelling to the back of her head.
Heath was the only adult present at the address and told a paramedic that she had fallen off a bed and must have hit her head. She had then become sleepy so he brought her upstairs and left her in the bedroom for a moment, returning to find her struggling to breathe.
He then told another paramedic that he had found her on the floor in a lethargic state.
Due to her injuries, police attended the address and spoke with both Heath and the child’s mother who had returned from dropping a friend at work.
Heath then told officers that he had taken the child out of her highchair in the front room as she was ‘whingy.’ He had left her to play and when he returned he saw her lying on the floor.
Initial observations from an air ambulance doctor suggested that the child had sustained a severe brain injury and as a result was taken to Alder Hey Hospital.
The little girl underwent emergency neurosurgery but despite best efforts, her condition deteriorated. On 31 August 2020, life support was withdrawn and the child sadly passed away.
A post-mortem examination revealed that she had sustained a catastrophic brain injury together with bleeding within and around her eyes, bruising to the body, along with rib fractures and damage to nerves in the neck.
Experts determined that she had suffered a significant traumatic head injury which, in their opinion, could not have been caused by accident.
On 21 July 2021, Heath was arrested and subsequently charged with murder.
Detective Inspector Adam Waller, who led the investigation, said: “This case is indescribably tragic and due to the complicated medical evidence, the family have had to wait many, many months for justice and I’d like to pay testament to their patience.
“Heath had already had been interviewed by police both before and immediately after the child’s death and was further interviewed in July 2021 under caution – officers put to him the various inconsistencies in what he had claimed from 30 August 2020 onwards.
“Yet he told police that he couldn’t recall what he had allegedly said and continued to deny causing injury or harm to the girl.
“The medical evidence clearly pointed towards a sudden catastrophic assault on the little girl and although Heath was alone with her at the time, in order to conceal his involvement, he lied about the circumstances. He was unable to think on his feet and come up with a plausible or consistent account which was ultimately his undoing.
“The level of injury caused to the child was described by one of the pathology experts as being akin to a road traffic collision or multi-storey fall.
“The fact that he blamed the mother of the child who wasn’t even present at the time just demonstrates the total lack of compassion and cowardice in not taking responsibility for his actions against a defenceless little girl. He has shown an arrogance and a total lack of remorse throughout this case including while in court.
“I would also like to thank all of those involved in the investigation both professionals and from the community and particularly from my investigation team for their tenacity during the most harrowing of cases, in making sure that Heath was sentenced for his most appalling actions.”
In a tribute, the little girl's mother said: "She was always so happy and full of life, the happiest cheekiest little girl you had ever seen, her smile lit up the whole room. Her personality was so big, my heart aches every day.
"I thank Adam Waller and the team for bringing the truth to light and bringing that monster to justice.”