Mother jailed for 18 years for murdering toddler Keegan Downer
A mother-of-four who murdered her toddler daughter months after being made her legal guardian has been jailed for at least 18 years.
Kandyce Downer was convicted on Tuesday of killing 18-month-old Keegan Downer, formerly Shi-Anne, at the family home on September 5 2015 after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
A post-mortem examination revealed the toddler died from a combination of old head injuries, septicaemia and blunt chest trauma but had suffered a catalogue of injuries in her short life.
Sentencing Downer to life with a minimum term of 18 years, Mrs Justice Frances Patterson said: "It is a horrible tale of callous conduct and at no stage have you showed any remorse.
"Why you changed from a loving mother to a brutal attacker of a defenceless child is a mystery."
The judge told "vicious and unfeeling" Downer she had inflicted terrible injuries on the child, including brain damage which caused the defenceless youngster to regress.
"As a result of the trauma, Keegan's brain was incarcerated in scar tissue which caused persistent pressure on it, preventing the brain from growing, and Keegan would have become backwards in her development.
"She would have regressed from what she could do physically."
She said: "You did not set out with the intention to kill Keegan but the repeated assaults on her made death as an outcome of your conduct increasingly likely passage of time."
Mrs Justice Patterson added that Downer had "hitherto been an exemplary mother" but had caused untold suffering on the little girl in her care.
She said: "The bruising and injuries to Keegan's face, head and frenuli (mouth tissue) would have been evident to her carers.
"These injuries would have been caused by a hard slap, a punch, or forcing a feeding bottle into her mouth."
Concluding her remarks to an unmoving Downer, the judge added: "Keegan suffered considerably in the last days and months of her life."