Dorset

Harry House murder: Joseph Eke jailed for Broadmayne toddler death

Harry House Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Paramedics tried to save Harry but he died in hospital in May 2016

A man who killed his partner's toddler by punching and kicking him has been sentenced to life in prison.

Joseph Eke, 22, was found guilty of murdering 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 was cleared of a charge of unlawful wounding following a trial in May.

Eke has been ordered to spend a minimum of 18 years in prison.

He was found guilty by a jury at Winchester Crown Court after Harry died as a result of a blunt-force impact to the abdomen that split his pancreas in two in May last year.

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

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Joseph Eke has been ordered to serve at least 18 years in prison

Jurors also heard Eke was a heroin addict and had attacked the mother for refusing to give him drugs money after Harry's death.

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

In sentencing him, Ms Justice May, said, "No-one will ever know the extent of your mistreatment of Harry over the last few days and weeks of his life.

"You wilfully, fatally failed Harry when you assaulted him, taking his life."

She added: "Any untimely death is a tragedy, it is particularly wretched when a child dies."

Image caption Emergency services were called to the house in Main Street, Broadmayne, on 26 May 2016

Det Ch Insp Sarah Derbyshire, of Dorset Police's Major Crime Investigation Team, said it had been "an extremely difficult and challenging investigation".

A statement issued on behalf of Harry's family said: "This past year has been the most horrific time for our family but we have at least now got justice for our darling Harry, although it is bittersweet that we have lost him forever.

"We are grateful that no other child and their family will have to go through what we have because of the actions of Eke and are at least thankful he is where he should be and for a very long time.

"As a family we now have to try and move on from this heartbreaking tragedy and, although justice has now been done, things will never be the same again."

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