Harper Denton death: Father Kevin Eves jailed for baby's murder

Image source, Bedfordshire Police
Image caption,
Kevin Eves was jailed for nine years in 2006 for assaulting a toddler

A man convicted of murdering his eight-week-old daughter, 13 years after he seriously injured another child, has been jailed for life.

Kevin Eves, of Wixams, near Bedford, smothered Harper Denton and left her with numerous fractures, including one to her skull, in June 2018.

The 37-year-old was jailed in 2006 for assaulting a toddler in his care, the Old Bailey heard.

He has been ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years.

During his trial, Eves, of Nightingale Court, told the jury he awoke to find Harper purple and cold to the touch, claiming her injuries - 34 rib fractures and a fractured skull - were caused by his attempts to resuscitate her.

However, jurors heard the fractures were inflicted during at least three separate assaults in the weeks before her death.

Eves was jailed for nine years in 2006 - when known as Forbes - for causing grievous bodily harm with intent and wilfully assaulting a toddler in his care when living in Bournemouth. He was released in 2010.

The boy suffered life-threatening head injuries and fractures to his elbow.

Prosecutor Sally Howes QC said the assault was "so similar" to the one that killed Harper.

'Uncontrolled rage'

The prosecution said Harper's mother, Cherinea Denton, who was acquitted of her daughter's murder, was aware Eves had a previous conviction but believed his account that it was connected to a fight at a house party.

Sentencing Eves, Mrs Justice O'Farrell said the "protracted and escalating violent attacks" he carried out on Harper were "cruel, brutal and vicious".

"Unfortunately you did not have the instincts to protect and nurture that most parents have," she added.

"You were insensitive to the fragility of your baby and you were unable or unwilling to put her needs before your own comfort. You had uncontrolled rage."

Ms Denton, who suffers from chronic fatigue, was not present in court but said in a victim statement: "My beautiful girl had her future stolen from her by somebody that she should have been able to trust and count on for the whole duration of her life - a life that should have lasted longer than eight weeks."

Harper's grandmother, Debbie Denton, said the loss of the "loved and adored" child "shook this family to its core".

"Mr Eves serves no purpose within a tight-knit family and certainly not amongst children. Had we known this, he would have never been welcomed into ours."

'Horrific injuries'

After the sentencing, Colin Foster, director of children's services at Bedford Borough Council, said a serious case review was being carried out.

"The Eves family were not known to social services in Bedford Borough and the authority was not made aware of the previous convictions," a statement said.

Det Insp Dani Bailey, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: "Baby Harper suffered immensely in her short life at the hands of the person who should have been protecting and looking after her.

"The injuries she sustained were horrific and the fact they were deliberate is even more shocking."

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