Preston Crown Court, Manchester, slams Matthew Higham, 23, with life-jail with a minimum of twenty-five years imprisonment following his admittance to the murder of his two-weeks old daughter, Florence Liberty-Mae, on his first day of trial after earlier stating, “I’m not responsible for the death of my lovely little girl Florence. She was the light of my eyes. I have not shook her or dropped her.”
Florence was taken to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport but was pronounced dead at 8.38pm on July 29 last year. Prosecutor Mr Gordon Cole QC said the little girl had received “extensive injuries” at the hands of her father.
Following a two-day investigation at the home, officers concluded that the assault had taken place around the sofa before the youngster was moved throughout the house as she continued to bleed. The court heard that Higham had made an attempt to clean the house before emergency services arrived. Blood-stained clothing was found in the dustbin. Following his arrest later that night, he was to provide a statement denying his involvement in the death of his “perfect” baby, adding it had been “out of the blue”. The statement said: “I’m not responsible for the death of my lovely little girl Florence. She was the light of my eyes. I have not shook her or dropped her.”
Mr Benjamin Nolan QC for Higham said: “He does not remember the actual events of the killing.”
Two weeks old Florence before being killed by her father
The court was told that the findings of a post-mortem examination, conducted by Dr Naomi Carter at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, were consistent with repeated punches to the face or repeatedly being slammed against a hard surface. Pathologist Dr Carter said she could not rule out that Florence was also kicked, squeezed or stamped on. Fingertip bruises were also found on the little girl’s arms, legs and chest indicating that she had been “gripped and pinched with considerable force”.
Mr Cole said that Higham made an emergency 999 call at 8.06pm saying that his daughter was “bleeding out of her nose, mouth and ears” but denied that Florence had sustained any trauma while with him. He initially described to police how Florence had begun to bleed as he fed her, before stopping breathing. Higham has maintained that he has no account of what happened or how he caused the injuries which included multiple skull and rib fractures, facial injuries and bruising, resulting in acute brain damage.
Late Florence Liberty-Mae
Her devastated family said Florence was adored and paid tribute to their ‘precious angel’. Her mother said: “Florence Liberty Mae was my much-loved daughter and was adored equally by her big sister Amelia, her Ninny and all her family. “We barely had time to know you, or see you grow and you will be dearly missed. “The short time we spent with you was precious and you will always be in our hearts, beautiful girl.
“Sleep tight our precious angel.” She was laid to rest on 31, July, two days after her death.
Matthew, Mae’s father
In passing sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years, Mr Justice Kerr said that the “evil done” by Higham in the “brutal and frenzied attack” was greater than other cases he had considered. He added: “You battered her to death, her injuries were horrifying.
“It was a crime of such unspeakable violence it is difficult to understand how any human being could do such a thing.
“You say you do not remember doing it. Whether or not that is true, by your plea of guilty to the murder of your baby daughter you have accepted, very late, that you inflicted those injuries on her with the intention of killing her or doing her really serious harm.”
Mr Justice Kerr added: “The victim was a baby barely two weeks old, defenseless and completely dependent on you. “You still say you do not remember what happened, but now you accept that you intended to kill or cause really serious harm to Florence. “Only this morning did you finally accept that the game was up and that the trial need not proceed.”
Florence also had a elder sister, Amelia, Seventeeen months, with mum, Sharon who had gone visiting a sick friend when the murder was perpetuated.
Photo Credit, mirror.co.uk