Man guilty of murdering two-year-old boy in brutal attack
Joseph Eke has been found guilty of murdering a two-year-old boy by "punching or kicking" him in the stomach in a "loss of temper".
The 22-year-old man inflicted the fatal injuries when he had been left alone with Harry House at their family home in Broadmayne, Dorset, for a few minutes while the child's mother popped to the shops on May 26 last year.
Following a three-week trial, a jury at Winchester Crown Court found Eke guilty of murder as well as grievous bodily harm, but not guilty of wounding.
Cries of "Yes" and sobbing could be heard from the public gallery as the verdicts were announced, while Eke showed no emotion.
Adam Feest QC, prosecuting, told the court Harry died as a result of a blunt-force impact to the abdomen, probably by punching or kicking, which was of such force that it split the pancreas in two.
He said: "The defendant attacked Harry in such a violent way he caused multiple severe internal injuries and skull fracture.
"The force would have been severe and significant and in landing that blow or blows on such a small child, that degree of force would have been obvious to the defendant."
Harry's mother Lauren O'Neill, 22, told the court her son went "all floppy" in her arms after Eke told her he was not feeling well.
She said: "Harry was crying and he spoke to me and said he was okay and then he went all floppy and was making weird noises and his eyes were rolling in his head.
"He seemed to deteriorate really, really quickly.
"He was really, really floppy, his eyes were in his head, he was a funny colour and making funny noises."
The court heard Eke urged Ms O'Neill not to call for an ambulance, telling her Harry could be put into care.
And in July last year, Eke assaulted Ms O'Neill, including slapping her with a Subway sandwich, after she "took a swipe" at him after he accused her of killing Harry.
The GBH charge related to several broken ribs which were found during a post-mortem examination.
The wounding charge, of which Eke was cleared, related to an incident two months prior to his death when Harry suffered a cut to his face on Easter Sunday which Eke said had been caused by the toddler falling over on to a plate.
Eke, of St Lawrence Road, Upwey, Weymouth, had denied the offences and had told the court: "I didn't kill him, I wouldn't kill him. I wouldn't harm a kid."
The judge, Mrs Justice May, adjourned the case for sentencing on June 5 and Eke was remanded in custody until then.
Belfast Telegraph Digital