Daniel Sheard, 24, and Lucy Damen, 22, were both arrested in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire this week after their baby was found dead by paramedics in 2013. The 18-week-old little girl was named Kayleigh Sheard and had fractured bones, bruises and bite marks on her body. When paramedics arrived at the scene, she was found badly burned and dead after her parents left her in front of a gas fire to try and “warm her up.”
The original crime was in September 2013, when paramedics found Kayleigh strapped into her bouncy chair in front of the fire, which was burning at maximum heat. According to ITV, the couple later “manipulated the scene” and tried to “cover up” the circumstances surrounding the child’s death out of fear of social services. Daniel had reportedly spent most of his young life in their care and they had dealt with them earlier that years after doctors noticed Kayleigh showed signs of neglect during a June 2013 visit.
A post-mortem examination revealed fractures to the little girl’s right shoulder, 17 separate fractures to her ribs and marks that showed she had been bitten by presumably another child. When authorities arrived that the home, Daniel told them that he had turned the fire up in an effort to try and wake her up. He showed little remorse for the child’s death and was found guilty of cruelty by neglect while Damen pleaded guilty to the charge.
Judge Tom Bayliss QC said their behavior amounted to “protracted if not long term neglect over one third of this child’s short life” and sentenced the couple to six years and four-and-a-half years in jail, respectively.
“Each of you knew the injuries would suggest to any health care worker that the injuries were non-accidental so you sought to conceal them,” he said. “There is no excuse for what you did. You both have proved unfit to ever look after children.”
Kayleigh’s extended family has since released a statement discussing their grief. “As a family we will never understand how or why Kayleigh was so badly mistreated by the two people who should have loved and cherished her most,” it read. “Our grief has been prolonged for over three years while we patiently waited for the conclusion of the case. We will never be able to come to terms with the loss of Kayleigh, albeit her life was very short she gave us all joy. Our hope is now that justice has been done, Kayleigh Mai can rest in peace and we can all try and move on as a family.”