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‘Cruel, brutal and vicious’ father jailed for life for murdering baby girl

Kevin Eves injured and smothered eight-week-old Harper Denton 12 years after being jailed for causing grievous bodily harm to another child.

Kevin Eves has been jailed for life for killing his baby daughter 12 years after he seriously injured another child in his care (Bedfordshire Police/PA)
Kevin Eves has been jailed for life for killing his baby daughter 12 years after he seriously injured another child in his care (Bedfordshire Police/PA)

By Emily Pennink, PA Old Bailey Correspondent

A “cruel, brutal and vicious” father with a history of violence towards children has been jailed for at least 20 years for killing his baby daughter.

Kevin Eves, 37, inflicted multiple injuries on eight-week-old Harper Denton before smothering her at the family home in Wixams, near Bedford, on June 12 last year, the Old Bailey was told.

In 2006, Eves, then known as Forbes, was jailed for nine years for causing grievous bodily harm and assaulting a little boy.

But he kept the details secret from his new partner, Cherinea Denton, whom he met on the internet.

You were insensitive to the fragility of your baby and you were unable or unwilling to put her needs before your own comfort. You had uncontrolled rage Mrs Justice O'Farrell, sentencing Kevin Eves

Eves, of Nightingale Court, Wixams, had denied murdering their baby daughter but was found guilty by a jury on Tuesday.

Sentencing him to life with a minimum term of 20 years, Mrs Justice O’Farrell said the “protracted and escalating violent attacks” Eves carried out were “cruel, brutal and vicious”.

She said that, after being “joyful and excited” about his partner’s unplanned pregnancy, Eves subjected his daughter to a series of escalating violence over her short life.

The judge told him: “Unfortunately you did not have the instincts to protect and nurture that most parents have.

“You were insensitive to the fragility of your baby and you were unable or unwilling to put her needs before your own comfort. You had uncontrolled rage.”

The judge said Harper had been a “contented” baby but must had screamed in pain the first time he hurt her, causing broken ribs.

“You should have been in no doubt that you caused distress and suffering. Probably you regretted your actions immediately. Probably you were remorseful, probably you tried to comfort Harper, but that did not stop you hurting her again and again,” she said.

You will have to live with the guilt that you killed the one person who completely depended upon you and would have loved you unconditionally - your own child Mrs Justice O'Farrell, sentencing Kevin Eves

In the final assault, Eves held his hand over Harper’s mouth, as she struggled and gasped for air, then, having killed her, put her back in her Moses basket and went to sleep, the court heard.

The judge said: “You will have to live with the guilt that you killed the one person who completely depended upon you and would have loved you unconditionally – your own child.”

Ms Denton, who suffers from chronic fatigue, was not present in court but said in a victim statement: “My beautiful girl had her future stolen from her by somebody that she should have been able to trust and count on for the whole duration of her life – a life that should have lasted longer than eight weeks.”

She said Harper had a “cheeky grin” but never lived to celebrate her first birthday or see a Christmas tree.

She criticised Eves for choosing to “manipulate, control and torment” her and her family since Harper’s death, saying: “At any time in the last 16 months, Mr Eves could have told the truth, admitted what he had done and ended this nightmare.”

Ms Denton added that it was “almost as if he was enjoying the knowledge that he could prolong or conclude our suffering”.

Mr Eves serves no purpose within a tight-knit family and certainly not amongst children. Had we known this, he would have never been welcomed into ours Debbie Denton, baby Harper's grandmother

Harper’s grandmother, Debbie Denton, said the loss of the “loved and adored” child “shook this family to its core”.

She said: “It is extremely heart-breaking that we as a family came to discover Mr Eves’ intentions at a time that it was too late to protect our beautiful Harper.

“Mr Eves serves no purpose within a tight-knit family and certainly not amongst children. Had we known this, he would have never been welcomed into ours.

“We will never be able to shake this feeling of resentment and betrayal as our trust has been broken.”

The court had heard that Harper suffered 34 rib fractures, 11 classic metaphyseal fractures, two fractured metatarsal bones – one in each foot – and a skull fracture.

The “severe” injuries were said to have been inflicted over at least three episodes in the three weeks before Harper’s death from suffocation.

Jurors were told that Ms Denton, 34, was unaware that, in 2006, Eves had been jailed for hurting another child in his care.

The victim in that case suffered “life-threatening” head injuries and fractures to the elbow.

Eves had claimed the young boy was injured when he fell to the floor from a washing machine while he was looking after him.

But the injuries were said to be consistent with the child being “swung forcefully by the arms such that his head impacted against a surface such as the floor or a wall”.

In mitigation, Jo Sidhu QC said Eves had a “warm, supportive childhood” but his life went “awry” in his early 20s when he got involved in taking drugs.

Babies and young children are entirely reliant on those around them so we all have a duty to be alert to signs of abuse and report any concerns we may have NSPCC

Detective Inspector Dani Bailey, of Bedfordshire Police, said: “This has been a very sad and emotive case, one of the worst I have had to deal with.

“This was clearly heart-breaking for all involved, especially Harper’s mother and the huge impact the loss of her baby daughter has had on her.

“Baby Harper suffered immensely in her short life at the hands of the person who should have been protecting and looking after her.

“The injuries she sustained were horrific and the fact they were deliberate is even more shocking.”

An NSPCC spokesman said: “This a horrific case where ultimately a defenceless baby girl lost her life due to the brutal actions of the very man who should have been protecting her, and our thoughts are with her family.

“Babies and young children are entirely reliant on those around them so we all have a duty to be alert to signs of abuse and report any concerns we may have.

“The NSPCC helpline is available for adults to call confidentially for advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or via help@nspcc.org.uk.”

PA

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