Northern Ireland

Millie Martin: Toddler changed from outgoing to clingy

For the first year of her life Millie Martin was a normal healthy child and social services were not involved with her or her mother.

Routine checks by health visitors and medical appointments with her GP suggested Millie was thriving and developing normally.

Witnesses said Rachael Martin was a caring and confident mother.

But there was a change around the time of Millie's first birthday.

The prosecution asked if it was a coincidence that Millie had suffered ten weeks of abuse, ten weeks when Barry McCarney had installed himself in their home.

He was an unemployed labourer and had been going out with Rachael for just a few weeks when he moved in.

Rachael Martin had met him through her father, who was his distant cousin, and she found him charming.

"He treated me like a princess," she said, but admitted she did not know him very well before he moved in.

She said he could not have been any nicer towards her daughter, playing with her and buying her presents.

McCarney, known as "Budgie", told the police that he tried "to be a dad to Millie".

However, people were starting to notice bruises and injuries on the toddler's head.

Millie had taken her first steps on the day of her first birthday.

Rachael Martin said she thought some of her daughter's injuries were not unusual for a "clumsy wee girl" who was learning to walk.

Smile

Barry McCarney told her that Millie could be hitting her head on her cot or the wall at night.

On 9 December 2009, Rachael put Millie to bed - it was the last time she would see her daughter's smile.

Barry McCarney suggested to Rachael that she go out to the shop for a Kit Kat.

She was away just six minutes but before she got home her daughter would be fighting for her life.

Barry McCarney said he had found Millie in her cot and she had stopped breathing and he had attempted to resuscitate her.

Barry McCarney
Barry McCarney was found guilty of murdering 15-month-old Millie Martin

He rushed to a neighbour's house, but by the time he carried her through the doors of the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen, she was already in a "lifeless condition".

Millie had suffered an injury to the back of her head caused by an impact against a hard surface.

Medical evidence suggested the blow was fatal from the moment it was struck.

The list of injuries discovered after her death was horrific.

The toddler had suffered 21 fractured ribs, some inflicted up to four weeks before her death.

Assault

She had terrible internal injuries caused by punching or prodding.

She had also been recently sexually assaulted.

During 13 hours of police interviews Barry McCarney said he did not know how Millie had got her injuries.

He said he was disgusted and in shock about what had happened and said he "would not harm a hair on her head".

The most heart-wrenching moments in the trial came when the jury was shown videos of the toddler.

Those watching Millie dancing to the tune of Galway Girl on a mobile phone could imagine any other toddler enjoying being the centre of attention.

But this little girl had already suffered weeks of horrific abuse. Two weeks before her death, her mother filmed Millie staring sadly into the camera as she sat on the sofa, glancing at Barry McCarney, a large lump visible on her forehead.

The last images of Millie were on the Erne Hospital CCTV, being carried lifeless and dying in the arms of her killer.

Watching those CCTV images in the dock, Barry McCarney wiped away tears, one of the only times he appeared to show any emotion.

During the two month trial Barry McCarney chose to remain silent. He did not go into the witness box, in a case which the prosecution said cried out for answers from him.

His lawyers argued the evidence against him was threadbare and attempted to blame Rachael Martin for her daughter's death.

The idea that she had turned from "a loving, caring, devoted, responsible" mother into a "sadistic, vile, lying, evil murderess" was described by her barrister as "the biggest red herring in history".

Rachael Martin went into the witness box and told the jury she had no idea that her daughter was being abused

The prosecution argued that the injuries Millie had were "too significant, too severe and too many" for her mother not to have known Millie was being abused.

Rachael said she had noticed that Millie's behaviour had changed and she had become more clingy.

Tears

Millie would lie quietly in her cot each morning when before she would play with her toy mouse Mimsy.

Rachael Martin said she thought she no longer liked the house at Glebe Park and also suggested she had begun to cry when she said goodnight.

The prosecution said Millie was obviously afraid of what was going to happen to her and Rachael had failed to open her eyes to what was going on inside her own house to her own daughter.

They claimed if she had taken appropriate action Millie would not have died.

But she said it had never crossed her mind that Millie was being abused and if she had known then Barry McCarney would not have been anywhere near her.

She said: "I didn't know I had a monster in my house".

She told the court that the only guilt she felt was for letting Barry McCarney into her house.

At the end of four days in the witness box Rachael Martin broke down and said what he had done had wrecked her whole life.

She said: "I have to live with this for the rest of my life, without seeing my daughter growing up and never hearing the word "mummy" from her."

Her defence barrister said Barry McCarney had misled her, just as he had attempted to mislead the police and the court.

The killing of 15-month-old Millie was described in court as sheer undiluted evil beyond belief.

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