A HEARTBROKEN mum of a toddler who was killed by her step-dad has slammed his “incredibly” lenient sentence.
Hannah Butler, 29, was horrified after her ex Paul Marsh attacked little Jessica Dagleish after she refused to eat the lunch he made her.
Marsh, 27, was handed an 11-year sentence for the manslaughter of the three-year-old, but will “likely just serve six years.”
Residential home carer Marsh beat little Jessica while her mum was at work covering a shift he had called in sick for.
He became angry after she wouldn’t eat a ham sandwich while he was trying to watch football scores on Sky Sports.
Marsh claimed Jessica had fallen down the stairs and he had found her slumped behind the banister on December 21, 2019.
He sent a text to mum Hannah detailing the ‘accident’ and she insisted he call 999 while she rushed home – despite him calling a hospital visit ‘pointless’.
Jessica – who suffered from complex learning difficulties – was airlifted from Folkestone to King’s College Hospital in London, but died on Christmas Eve from fatal brain injuries caused by a cracked skull.
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Marsh’s account of what had happened was unclear, prompting an investigation by detectives from Kent Police and his subsequent arrest.
After a jury trial at Maidstone Crown Court, Marsh was jailed on December 20 l'année dernière – and Jessica’s grieving mum is “livid” at the sentence.
Hannah a dit: “I’m just staggered that he was handed such a short jail term.
“C'était 11 years but in reality he’ll serve six if that, it’s just disgusting considering what he’s done to my baby girl.
“He killed her in cold blood because he wanted to watch football on TV. I should never have allowed him around her, but I trusted him.
“She was extremely vulnerable, and he knew that. I thought he would be safe, I met him working in a care home, but how wrong I was.
“The trial proved that it wasn’t a one-off, he’d hurt her before and gotten away with it because she used to bang her head a lot due to her disability.
“This has destroyed my confidence completely. I’m starting a petition for an appeal for a proper sentence.
“I won’t accept that the sentence he got fits his crimes and I won’t rest until we have justice.”
‘REALLY QUIET GUY’
Hannah started dating Marsh in February 2019 after initially meeting at work in October 2017.
The couple moved in together in August 2019, and initially he was kind and caring towards Jessica.
Elle a dit: “He was a really quiet guy, he seemed good and kind. I never saw any different, he kept up his nice guy act in front of me at all times.
“I had no reason to be suspicious. I’d even done full background checks on him before even letting him meet Jessica.
“Jessica was my life, I’d never have intentionally put her at risk.”
En décembre 13, 2019 – just weeks before Marsh killed Jessica – Hannah received a call from her nursery who were concerned about facial bruising.
Hannah added: “The hospital just accepted it was due to her headbanging behaviour as did I.
“Jessica had lots of difficult behaviours including pulling her hair out and bashing her head off things.
“She was undergoing assessments at the time she was killed. Paul knew all about Jessica before we got together.
“It never crossed my mind it would have been Paul hurting her. I went to the GP later that week and got her a protective helmet to help cushion her head, I really thought it was just that.”
On December 21st 2019, Marsh called in sick to the care home he and Hannah both worked in – leaving her to cover for him.
Hannah a dit: “He wasn’t even sick, he just couldn’t be bothered to go in. It had become clear to me that he didn’t really like our job, not like I did.
“So I left Paul to look after Jessica because I trusted him. It was the worst mistake of my life.”
At 3.15pm Marsh messaged his partner to saying “you need to call me” after she’d been at work for just a few hours.
He told the worried mum that her daughter had fallen down the stairs, but didn’t appear “concerned” at all – leaving her to call 999 and rush home.
Elle a dit: “I got there as loads of paramedics were there – all gathered around.
“Jessica was on the sofa naked. It was brought up in court why she had no clothes on, Paul said he’d undressed her to ‘check for bruises’ but that literally doesn’t make sense at all.
“He was first aid trained, he’d know not to do that. Jessica was totally unresponsive, it was horrific. I was beside myself.
“Before we left to go to hospital, Jessica was taken in an air ambulance, il a dit: ‘I’m going to go down for this’.
“At the time I didn’t think much of it because I was so worried about her but later it dawned on me as a really strange thing to say.”
‘SHE WAS MY ANGEL’
Marsh, from Sandgate, Kent, denied manslaughter and cruelty to the child in the weeks before her death.
Prosecutor Jennifer Knight QC said he had told the mother that there was nothing wrong with Jessica when she found mystery bruises on her in the weeks before her death.
She told Marsh: “You know there was no mystery because you had caused the injuries.”
The court had heard how Jessica – who was under three feet tall and weighed just 2st 11lbs – had been born in February 2016 and suffered from complex autism.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kimber, Senior Investigating Officer for the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, mentionné: “This is a tragic case in which a young girl has been robbed of her life before it had really begun.
“Marsh was reluctant to get medical attention for Jessica on the day he inflicted these injuries, and he has since sought to evade justice by changing his account and lying about what actually happened on that day.
“A meticulous investigation by my team, including sensitive interviewing of a number of witnesses and careful analysis of complicated medical evidence, has led to Marsh being found guilty of manslaughter.
“I hope the jury’s verdicts and the sentence handed down today give Jessica’s relatives some sense of closure as they continue to mourn her tragic death.”
Hannah and Jessica’s grandma, Casey Jell, 49, have since started a petition asking for a sentence review for Marsh.
Elle a dit: “If I could say anything to him now I’d tell him I hate him. If he couldn’t cope, why didn’t he just leave?
“He was a big man, how could he attack her like that? Over a sandwich? Jessica didn’t even like sandwiches anyway.
“I’d always told him that she would always live with me, I’d never put her in care, and I think he hated that.
“Looking back part of me thinks he was jealous because I did baby her, I did shower her with love, she was my baby.
“He always told me I spoiled Jessica but she deserved a good life. And Jessica’s life deserves more than the sentence he got.
“He still wouldn’t admit what he did or show any remorse at all. It’s like because Jessica was disabled her life doesn’t matter.
“But she was an angel, she was my angel and now she’s gone.”
Comment obtenir de l'aide
Women’s Aid propose ces conseils aux victimes et à leurs familles:
- Gardez toujours votre téléphone à proximité.
- Contactez des organismes de bienfaisance pour obtenir de l'aide, y compris le service d'assistance téléphonique en direct de Women’s Aid et des services tels que SupportLine.
- Si vous êtes en danger, appel 999.
- Familiarisez-vous avec la solution silencieuse, signaler un abus sans parler au téléphone, composez plutôt le «55».
- Gardez toujours de l'argent sur vous, y compris le changement pour un billet de téléphone public ou de bus.
- Si vous pensez que votre partenaire est sur le point de vous attaquer, essayez d'aller dans une zone à faible risque de la maison - par exemple, où il y a une sortie et un accès à un téléphone.
- Évitez la cuisine et le garage, où il y a probablement des couteaux ou d'autres armes. Évitez les pièces où vous pourriez être piégé, comme la salle de bain, ou où vous pourriez être enfermé dans une armoire ou un autre petit espace.
Si vous êtes victime de violence conjugale, SupportLine est ouvert mardi, Mercredi et jeudi de 18h à 20h le 01708 765200. Le service d'assistance par e-mail de l'organisme de bienfaisance est ouvert en semaine et le week-end pendant la crise - email@example.com.
Women’s Aid offre un service de chat en direct – available weekdays from 8am-6pm and weekends 10am-6pm.
Vous pouvez également appeler le service d'assistance téléphonique national 24 heures sur 24 0808 2000 247.