Beds, Herts & Bucks

Alexa-Marie Quinn murder: Father Carl Wheatley found guilty

Carl Wheatley and Alexa-Marie Quinn Image copyright JOHN O REILLY
Image caption Carl Wheatley gained custody of Alexa-Marie Quinn weeks before her death in March 2014

A man has been found guilty of murdering his four-year-old daughter by beating her to death.

Alexa-Marie Quinn had 66 injuries including a bruise from her stomach to her ankles when she died in March 2014, St Albans Crown Court heard.

Carl Wheatley, 31, from Hatfield, Hertfordshire, admitted manslaughter but the jury rejected his plea of not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He will be sentenced on Friday.

The court heard Wheatley had convinced social workers he could look after the girl at his home in Queen Bee Court and was awarded custody of her three months before she died on 12 March last year.

Image copyright JOHN O REILLY
Image caption Alexa-Marie Quinn died at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage

The jury was told Wheatley beat Alexa with "hard, sustained, persistent hitting" after losing his temper. The blows were delivered with such force that fat deposits entered her bloodstream and blocked her lungs.

A pathologist found she died from "extreme blunt-force trauma".

Alexa had been removed from her mother's care some years earlier and had been living with foster parents in Bedfordshire before moving in with her father.

The supermarket worker was also fighting for custody of a three-year-old boy, who cannot be named in order to protect his identity.

Prosecutors said he wanted custody in order to claim more benefit payments.

During the trial, the jury was told psychiatrists diagnosed Wheatley with multiple mental health disorders.

Prosecutor Christopher Donnellan, QC, said Wheatley dialled 999 on the morning of the fatal attack but by the time paramedics arrived it was likely Alexa had been dead for hours.

Image copyright JOHN O REILLY
Image caption The jury heard Wheatley had multiple mental health disorders
Image copyright JOHN O'REILLY
Image caption The home in Hatfield where Carl Wheatley lived and where his daughter received a fatal beating

Det Ch Insp Jerome Kent from Hertfordshire police, said: "Alexa-Marie suffered horrific injuries at the hands of her father, a man who should have been protecting her.

"Not only did he cause her such significant injury prior to her death, he failed to seek any help for her, leaving her to suffer."

In welcoming the verdict, Jenny Coles, director of children's services at Hertfordshire County Council, said: "There will be an independent review of all the agencies involved in looking after Alexa-Marie by the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.

"We are keen to see its results and will welcome any recommendations about any improvements to our services and in our work with vulnerable children and their families."

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