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Handyman jailed for manslaughter of his six-week-old daughter in 1985

A “violent and controlling” handyman was jailed yesterday for smothering his six-week-old daughter 25 years ago.



David Riches (52), from Pezens in France, was given a 14-year prison term by a judge at Norwich Crown Court after being convicted of the manslaughter of Melanin Riches in Norwich on July 3, 1985.

Doctors at the time thought the cause was cot death and police did not investigate, the court heard.

But detectives launched an inquiry after Riches texted Melanin's brother Micah, now 22, saying she would not stop crying and he had “put her face between the arm and the seat of the sofa”.

Micah Riches, of Norwich, contacted police and the investigation revealed a “catalogue of abuse” towards women and children, prosecutors said.

A jury found Riches, who lived in Norwich when he killed Melanin, guilty of manslaughter plus a number of assaults and cruelty offences.

Judge Peter Jacobs said Riches was “violent and controlling” but doctors could find no evidence of psychiatric illness.

“You cruelly forced (Melanin) to take every last drop of her milk before bedtime in the hope that she would sleep,” said the judge.

“(You pushed) her face down the side of the sofa in between cushions. Your behaviour towards her culminated in her manslaughter.”

Detectives praised Micah Riches' courage in raising the alarm.

Riches entered not guilty pleas and insisted he was only trying to make her sleep.

He was cleared of murder.

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