Shanay Walker: Aunt and grandmother jailed for cruelty

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Shanay WalkerImage source, Police handout
Image caption,
The judge described Shanay Walker as a "lovely feisty child" who refused to be broken by her aunt

The "wicked" aunt and grandmother of a seven-year-old girl who died of a brain injury have been jailed for cruelty.

Shanay Walker died at a house in Nottingham, in July 2014 while in the care of her aunt Kay-Ann Morris, 24.

Morris was cleared of murder but both she and Juanila Smikle, 53, were convicted of "about the worst case of child" cruelty.

Morris, of Beckhampton Road, and Smikle, of Easegill Court, were jailed for eight and four years respectively.

Sentencing the pair following a trial at Nottingham Crown Court, The Hon Mr Justice Macduff said they manipulated Shanay to lie for them, fooling professionals into thinking her injuries were accidental.

Image source, Police handout
Image caption,
Shanay Walker was captured on shop CCTV the day before she was found dead

Addressing Morris, he said: "Your ill treatment of that little girl was frequent and wicked and lasted over the two years when she was in your care.

"You hit her, taunted her and you abused her in unimaginable ways."

He added he would be "loyal" to the verdict of not guilty of murder but said it was clear jurors could not be sure if Morris had caused the injury that resulted in her death.

"Maybe you were not responsible for the fatal head injury. But whatever its cause, I am wholly satisfied that you beat Shanay over and over, shortly before she died," he said.

A post-mortem report showed Shanay had more than 50 injuries to her body.

Image source, Nottinghamshire police
Image caption,
Kay-Ann Morris and her mother Juanila Smikle were found guilty of cruelty to Shanay Walker

The trial heard she came into Morris's care after her mother Leanne Walker suffered post-natal depression after another pregnancy.

Morris, a paternal aunt, chose not to give evidence at the trial but had previously told police Shanay had fallen down stairs.

Mr Macduff said: "I consider this to be just about the worst case of child cruelty it is possible to imagine... This little girl wanted your love, your protection, and your support.

"Instead she was subjected to all of this in what was a most wicked betrayal of trust."

Morris was cleared of a cruelty charge towards another child.

Smikle was found guilty of cruelty to three other children, including forcing them to sit in water and ice for so long they could barely stand when allowed out.

She was cleared of another charge of cruelty towards a fifth child.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Leanne Walker said she would never be able to adjust to the death of her daughter Shanay

Speaking after the sentencing, Shanay's mother Leanne Walker said the family will forever miss her "cuddles, singing and dancing".

"My beautiful daughter Shanay was entrusted to the care of family members who I believed would love and look after her," Ms Walker said.

"Instead she was the victim of ongoing abuse and tragedy and her life was cut short before she could become the lovely woman I know she would have grown up into.

"Smikle and Morris have shown little remorse for their actions. It hurts and sickens me to know of the pain Shanay would have been in."

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