Millie Martin murder: Barry McCarney found guilty
A County Tyrone man has been found guilty of murdering his former partner's toddler.
Barry McCarney was also found guilty of sexual assault and the grievous bodily harm of Millie Martin.
Millie's mother, Rachael, was cleared of allowing her daughter's death and cruelty through wilful neglect.
The 15-month-old died on 11 December 2009, a day after she was admitted to hospital in Enniskillen with serious injuries.
It followed weeks of abuse that culminated in a fatal attack inside her mother's house in Glebe Park, Enniskillen.
The trial opened on 3 October and lasted 36 days.
It was a circumstantial case against McCarney, from Woodview Crescent, Trillick, County Tyrone, and there was no forensic evidence to prove who had killed Millie.
During the ten week trial the court heard that in addition to the fatal blow to the back of her head, Baby Millie had suffered a multitude of other injuries, including horrific internal injuries which could have proved just as fatal.
These injuries to her abdomen had been caused by punching or prodding not only in the weeks, but possibly even in the hours before her death.
The 33-year-old had always protested his innocence. He said he was sickened and saddened by Millie's death.
But on Tuesday, a jury rejected his story and ruled he was responsible for what was described as the sadistic abuse of a child by a predator who tried to camouflage his tracks.
It took the jury just under three hours to reach their unanimous verdicts which were greeted with muted cheers and air-punches by family and friends of Ms Martin in the packed public gallery.
After the verdict was delivered in Dungannon Crown Court, Millie's mother, Rachael, sobbed uncontrollably in the dock and cried "thank you, thank you, justice has been done for my daughter".
Ms Martin of Main Street, Kesh, maintained throughout the trial she had done everything to protect her 'angel'. She was cleared of allowing McCarney to kill her daughter and of wilfully neglecting her during the three months she and McCarney were lovers.
The judge, Mr Justice Stephens, told McCarney: "This despicable crime is almost beyond understanding. This jury has understood and you for your part should understand, you are going to prison for a very long time. This is the point when you leave. I impose a life sentence."
Relatives of McCarney shouted "innocent" as they left the courthouse.
Outside the court, a statement was read out by Matthew Martin, a brother of Rachael.
He said Rachael Martin would "now be able to grieve properly" as a result of the verdict.
The family said this had not been possible before due to the "shocking, shocking decision" of the police to bring charges against her.
The statement added that Millie's mother did not consider the verdict a "victory" but marked the end of a "three-year waking nightmare".
It said the verdict gave justice for Ms Martin and her daughter and that Millie would be "missed, loved and remembered".
The family referred to McCarney as a "disgusting individual".
Mr Justice Stephens while jailing McCarney, for life for murder, will decide in the New Year how long a tariff to set, to determine how long he will have to serve before he is considered for possible release on licence.