A man has been jailed for life and told he must serve 18 years before being considered for parole after murdering a toddler he was looking after.
Roxie Archer, aged 23 months, suffered a fatal brain injury after she was said to have been "forcibly and repeatedly punched" by Ben Raftery, 21, while in his care.
Raftery was looking after the girl for his girlfriend, Roxie's 22-year-old mother Sophie Archer, who had flown out to New York to celebrate her 21st birthday, a court was told.
The mother was away for just 24 hours but Raftery dialled 999 in the early hours of March 10 last year to say that Roxie had fallen down the stairs at her home in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester. She died the next day in Tameside Hospital but it emerged that she had also suffered extensive bruising and retinal haemorrhaging.
A jury at Manchester Crown Court heard that a post-mortem examination concluded the injuries were non-accidental and their timing was consistent with being inflicted while the defendant was in sole charge of Roxie.
On Friday Raftery was convicted of murder by a jury at Manchester Crown Court. He was told he must serve a minimum of 18 years before he can apply for parole.
Passing sentence Mr Justice Saunders told the defendant: "It was an appalling crime which involved a grown and powerful man inflicting a number of hard blows on a toddler which were sufficiently forceful to cause devastating brain damage from which she died.
"The defendant was not the father of Roxie. He was living with Roxie's mother at the time and had been entrusted with the care of Roxie for 24 hours while her mother was away."
Outside court, detective superintendent Denise Worth, from Greater Manchester Police, said: "We will never know exactly what happened on that day, as Raftery has always maintained that it was an accident.
"Roxie's family are devastated by Raftery's actions and will never be able to see Roxie grow up into a young woman, see her get married and have children of her own. He has now been jailed, and will have to live the rest of his life with the knowledge that he is responsible for killing Roxie."