Man gets life for murder of baby whose crying interrupted Xbox game
Published 19/11/2010 | 05:00
A MAN was jailed for life yesterday for the "horrific" murder of a 15-month-old girl whom he savagely attacked after her crying interrupted him playing his Xbox.
Violet Mullen was punched, slapped and pinched by Gary Alcock (28) in the three weeks leading up to her death before he delivered a fatal blow to the stomach which tore her internal organs.
A jury at Manchester Court had cleared his ex-partner, Claire Flanagan (22) -- the child's mother -- of murder.
Last month she was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of Violet by ignoring the obvious signs of abuse.
The court heard Flanagan put her desperate need for a man in her life ahead of her daughter.
She was jailed for five years.
An ambulance was called to Flanagan's home in Oldham on January 12 last after Alcock told emergency services the child seemed "spaced out" and her lips were blue and cold.
Paramedics found Violet was not breathing and covered in bruises. She died 45 minutes after arrival in hospital.
The youngster died from internal bleeding after suffering 35 separate injuries including multiple bruises, rib fractures and brain damage, which were comparable to injuries suffered in a car crash.
Alcock had moved in with Flanagan just weeks after they started dating.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Clement Goldstone said: "In the three weeks before her death you, Gary Alcock, subjected her to repeated violence. You fractured two of her ribs either by squeezing or gripping her so tight that they snapped.
"You caused injuries to her brain, face, arms and legs with a combination of punches, slaps and, bordering on the sadistic, pinches.
"This was the way you chose to cope with a demanding little girl who demanded your attention and interrupted your time-consuming hobby of playing computer games."
Alcock put her to bed on the day of her death, said the judge, "no doubt in the hope that you would have some time free to indulge your desire to play on your Xbox".
He continued: "Violet was sick, she required changing, she required your time and patience.
"You lost control and your temper in the most unimaginable way. You struck her first in the mouth and then inexplicably and with savage force in the stomach."
The blow was struck with such force it tore her internal organs, he said.
Judge Goldstone said Flanagan knew for weeks that her boyfriend was hurting her daughter but did nothing to protect her.
He told her: "You could have sought medical help, you could have involved social services, you could have asked him (Alcock) to leave, but any of those options would have put at risk your relationship which you, at the time, priced far more highly than your relationship and love for Violet.''
Flanagan was said to be an "easy touch" who was desperate to be in a relationship with a man who would look after her and her Violet.
Alcock adopted the role of father figure immediately but his use of discipline soon led to the frightened girl cowering in his presence.
The catalogue of abuse began at least three weeks before the child's death but at no point did Flanagan seek medical attention.
On January 12, Violet was off colour, not eating, bruised and in pain.
Flanagan chose again not to take her to the doctor's surgery in the hope that the bruising would soon disappear.
She lied that Violet was downstairs when she returned home when in fact she was lying almost lifeless in her cot upstairs. She had made no effort to check on her condition before Alcock finally dialled 999.
Alcock had only one previous conviction for violence but the jury heard evidence that he had been violent towards other children and to his ex-partner of eight years.
Andrew O'Byrne, defending Flanagan, said she had been neglected as a child, in care by the age of 10, physically and sexually abused at home and pregnant at age 16.