Sunday 19 January 2020

Minimum term of 18 years for father who murdered eight-week-old baby Daisy-Mae

Two-month-old Daisy-Mae Credit: Lancashire Police/PA Wire
Two-month-old Daisy-Mae Credit: Lancashire Police/PA Wire

Kim Pilling

A father who murdered his baby daughter in a fit of temper when she would not stop crying has been jailed for a minimum of 18 years.

John Burrill, 31, inflicted grave injuries to eight-week-old Daisy-Mae when he grabbed her by the legs, squeezed her chest, shook her and then swung her in the air.

The right side of the youngster's head hit a hard surface, possibly the arm rest of a sofa, which caused a fractured skull and brain damage.

The first reaction of heavy cannabis user Burrill was to go outside the family home in Fleetwood, Lancashire and smoke a joint to "calm himself down" before he carried Daisy-Mae's lifeless body upstairs to her mother in the early hours of March 11 this year.

Daisy-Mae went into cardiac arrest and died in hospital three days later in the arms of her mother, Ashlee Cox, when the life support machine was switched off.

Burrill told his then partner, medical staff and police that Daisy-Mae became limp while downstairs as he went to feed her and he could not explain why.

Detectives went on to arrest the couple on suspicion of wounding before Burrill was re-arrested on suspicion of murder and Ms Cox on suspicion of causing or allowing the death of a child. Ms Cox was later released without charge.

Burrill maintained his innocence until just before the trial started last week when he finally admitted he was responsible for the unlawful killing of his daughter.

John Burrill, 31, has been convicted of murder Preston Crown Court, of his two-month-old daughter Daisy-Mae Credit: Lancashire Police/PA Wire
John Burrill, 31, has been convicted of murder Preston Crown Court, of his two-month-old daughter Daisy-Mae Credit: Lancashire Police/PA Wire

He denied intending to cause really serious harm to Daisy-Mae but a jury at Preston Crown Court rejected his account and convicted him on Tuesday of murder.

On Wednesday, sentencing judge Mr Justice Goss, together with Ms Cox and her family, criticised Burrill, of Gordon Street, Fleetwood, for keeping quiet for seven months.

Handing out a life term to the B&M Bargains store worker, the judge said: "Although repeatedly asked from the moment the emergency services were called, at the time of the death and thereafter, you professed not to know what had happened.

"And you protested that you would not lie about something so serious, thereby adding to the anxiety and grief of her mother and family.

"That you persisted in denying responsibility for your actions, thereby casting a constant shadow of suspicion and mystery in relation to Daisy-Mae's death and others, compounded the already immense trauma."

Ms Cox's mother, Beverley Swindells, read out her victim impact statement from the public gallery and pointedly explained she would not name her granddaughter's killer.

"I will never say his name again," she said.

"My daughter was arrested twice, it was difficult to get through each day.

"He made a conscious decision to keep quiet about what happened. He has had numerous opportunities to come clean. I will never forgive him for not doing the right thing and making us suffer for so long."

Ms Cox added: "I cannot describe how difficult the last seven months have been. I have been stuck in a nightmare that seems as if it will never end. I felt people were judging me.

"John has never told anyone that he was struggling to cope with Daisy-Mae. He never reached out at any point to ask for help.

"I will never know why John has put us through this hell when all the while he had it in his power to stop it."

PA Media

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