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From correspondents in London
February 09, 2007 07:54am
Article from: Reuters
AN English couple have been jailed for inflicting cruelty on their four-year-old disabled daughter that left her with horrific injuries.
The girl, who suffered from cerebral palsy, had boiling water poured over her hands, large clumps of hair ripped from her scalp, was kicked repeatedly in the groin and was locked naked in the toilet each night.
She was also forced to eat her own faeces.
Kimberly Harte, 23, was jailed for 11-and-a-half years, while her partner Samuel Duncan, 27, was given 10-and-a-half years when they were sentenced in London's Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court today.
Detective Sergeant Antony Smith, of the child abuse investigation unit, said it had been a "harrowing" investigation.
Her injuries, inflicted during February and March last year, were "quite appalling and horrific", he said.
Smith described the youngster as "young and fragile" when he interviewed her at hospital.
"She is doing a lot better now, and is being well cared for," he added.
Harte and Duncan, from Maida Vale, west London, admitted three charges each of acts of cruelty to a child or young person.
They were subsequently found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent.
The violence began just weeks after the helpless youngster was taken away by social services following domestic violence between her parents.
But she was later returned home to the couple despite concerns voiced by her foster carers.
The court heard the youngster was in constant agony until her horrified grandmother began to suspect what was going on and called in social services.
The little girl had suffered such "horrific injuries" that she would almost certainly have died without treatment.
The youngster, now scarred for life, was in such excruciating pain that she had to be examined under general anaesthetic.
When sentencing her parents today, Judge Paul Worsley QC told them: "You stand convicted by the jury of repeatedly injuring your child ... That child was loving and affectionate. That child had cerebral palsy. That child was your daughter."
"You harmed her in ways which, in my judgment, amounts to torture of that little girl.
"Your responsibility as parents was to protect, not harm her."
The judge said the case had been made all the worse by the fact both knew they were "under the eye of social services and had every reason to show more, not less, affection to that little girl".
But within four weeks of having been returned to them and "entrusted" into their care, Duncan broke her arm.
However, Harte conned medical staff by claiming that, while she was responsible, it had been an accident.
Later, however, she explained that Duncan was to blame.
Running through their offences, the judge continued: "On count two, you, Duncan, and you, Harte, scalped her.
"On count three, you, Duncan, and you, Harte, kicked her like a football so repeatedly and so severely in the groin that she had appalling bruising, internal bleeding, permanent liver damage.
"On count one, you, Harte, took her little hands and held them under the hot tap as you poured scalding water over them.
"Each of those injuries must have caused her excruciating pain and she must have shown her terror and agony at the time. And having witnessed that agony, both of you failed to secure for her the medical attention she so desperately needed.
"You failed to do so because in my judgment you feared discovery," he said.
While acknowledging that both defendants were still young and had had "difficult pasts", the judge said he was completely satisfied they had "deceived" social services into believing they were responsible parents.
"In my judgment you should never again be entrusted with the care of a young child.
"I can only hope with the passage of time you will mature and come to regret your appalling conduct to that little girl."
Her appalling suffering has led to urgent calls for a "full independent inquiry" into Westminster Council's handling of the situation.