Norfolk

Father jailed for killing daughter in Norwich in 1985

A 51-year-old man found guilty of smothering his six-week-old baby to death 25 years ago has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

David Riches was convicted of manslaughter at Norwich Crown Court in April. He was also found guilty of assaults on women and children.

The death of daughter Melanin came to light in 2007 after Riches was reunited with his son Micah.

He confessed to the killing in a text message and Micah informed the police.

The court heard that Riches, who lived in Norwich but now has a home in Pezens in France, killed his daughter by pushing her face down into the upholstery on the sofa of their family home on 3 July 1985.

'Violent and unpleasant'

Riches had denied killing her but was found guilty of manslaughter by a majority verdict of 10 to one.

The judge at Norwich Crown Court said it had been a "cruel and deliberate act by a man with totally changeable personality whose behaviour over the the last quarter of a century had been violent and unpleasant in the extreme".

During Riches' trial in April, the court heard that a post-mortem examination in 1985 concluded sudden infant death syndrome.

The court heard how after conversations about Melanin's death, Micah, now 21, sent Riches a text message asking exactly what had happened the day his sister died.

Riches replied saying that he picked Melanin up after she started crying. When she would not stop he put her face between the arm and the seat of the sofa.

Earlier in the trial, Judge Peter Jacobs had recorded a verdict of not guilty on a murder charge Riches faced because of insufficient evidence.

As well as manslaughter, Riches was also convicted of four counts of child cruelty and six assaults on a number of women and children.

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