Mother confessed to attacking a child years before murdering baby Amelia
A serious case review is under way into why Jennifer Crichton was allowed to keep her daughter.
A mother jailed for murdering her seven-month-old baby had confessed to attacking another child years earlier.
Jennifer Crichton, 35, seriously injured the child years before she was allowed to keep daughter Amelia, whom she then murdered while under a social service care plan devised by Lancashire County Council and outsourced to a local social care provider.
She had been arrested by police but never charged over the earlier attack, but went on to admit harming the child to a social worker, a nurse and a doctor.
It was only after she inflicted “catastrophic” and fatal head injuries on Amelia that she was prosecuted for the earlier offences.
A serious case review is under way involving police and social services.
On Tuesday, Crichton was convicted of Amelia’s murder after a jury at Preston Crown Court had deliberated for less than two hours following a five-week trial.
She was also convicted of three counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and child cruelty relating to the victim of the earlier attack, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
On the night Amelia was murdered, Crichton had been asked by her social worker to take over feeding her daughter, but replied “No, you do it”, and went for a cigarette instead.
Later the same evening, the social worker left Crichton alone with the baby at her home and within two hours the mother had inflicted “catastrophic” head injuries on her “helpless and vulnerable” child.
Amelia, born “on the cusp of life” at 24 weeks, had spent six months in intensive care due to her prematurity before going to live at home in Slater Lane in Leyland, Lancashire.
She died in hospital two days after the attack on April 19 last year.
Crichton tried to blame her partner, Richard Sheppard, for the injuries.
His family said she only wanted Amelia as a “meal ticket” to get a house and benefits.
She told a social worker “I’m a good mother” but was also “loud and aggressive” and heard to shout “Go to f****** sleep!” and warn her child”Do not piss me off!”.
Despite weighing just 1lb 4oz (570 grams) on delivery on September 8 2016, Amelia behaved like a normal baby, going home to live with the defendant under a “care plan” with the help of support workers who stayed overnight at the address until the hours were reduced over time.
At around 6pm on the night Amelia was murdered, a care support worker arrived at Crichton’s home.
At 11pm the care worker left and Amelia appeared to be fine, until, an hour and 20 minutes later, Crichton rang 999 for an ambulance reporting that her daughter was not breathing.
Her injuries included severe bleeding on the brain, in her right eye and a complex skull fracture, as well as with internal bleeding along the length of her spine.
Crichton offered no explanation for her daughter’s injuries, other than to say she had “collapsed”, even as doctors battled to save her life.
Expert medical examination concluded the baby had been the subject of a “violent physical assault” as a result of “striking or throwing” against a hard surface as well as bodily shaking.
Outside court, Detective Inspector Simon Cheyte, of Lancashire Constabulary’s Force Major Investigation Team, said: “In relation to the conviction for assault on the other child, this was subject to a previous police investigation and Jennifer Crichton was arrested but at that time it was decided by the Crown Prosecution Service there was not enough evidence to prosecute her.
“Following the murder of Amelia, the earlier assault was reviewed and further evidence, not available to the original investigation team, was discovered.
“This was considered along with the supporting evidence of Amelia’s sad death and it was decided that charges could be brought and today’s conviction secured.
“The person who should not be forgotten in this is Amelia. She should have been able to look to her mother for the protection and love of a parent.
“Instead, this defenceless child found herself subjected to horrendous abuse and the injuries which led to her death.”