Dorset

Harry House death: Joseph Eke guilty of Broadmayne toddler murder

Harry House Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Paramedics tried to save Harry but he died in hospital in Dorchester

A man has been found guilty of murdering his partner's young son.

Joseph Eke, 22, kicked and punched two-year-old Harry House at the family home in Broadmayne, Dorset, last May, while Harry's mother was out.

He was also convicted of grievous bodily harm but cleared of a charge of unlawful wounding following a trial at Winchester Crown Court.

Eke was a heroin addict and had also attacked the mother for refusing to give him drugs money, the court heard.

Harry died as a result of a blunt-force impact to the abdomen that split his pancreas in two.

A post-mortem examination showed he had a "potentially fatal" fractured skull.

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Joseph Eke will be sentenced on 5 June

The trial heard Harry's mother, Lauren O'Neill, had nipped to a local shop at 09:27 BST on 26 May 2016.

When she returned her son was turning "very white", his lips started turning blue and he became "very droopy".

But when Miss O'Neill called for an ambulance, Eke told her not to, claiming Harry had food poisoning.

Paramedics tried to save Harry but he died in hospital in Dorchester at 11:00.

The court was told Eke had helped with Harry's childcare and the boy called him "Daddy Joe Joe".

Speaking after the verdict, Det Ch Insp Sarah Derbyshire, of Dorset Police, said Harry's family were "relieved and thankful" following the verdict.

"We've worked tireless piecing together the evidence, working with specialists with the medical profession until ultimately we've achieved justice today.

"It's been incredibly difficult for the family with the loss of a beautiful two-year-old toddler who had the rest of his life to lead. The loss and the grieving and police investigation and court case, but today's verdict has I hope made them feel more content."

He is due to be sentenced on 5 June.

Image caption Emergency services were called to the house in Main Street, Broadmayne, on 26 May last year

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