A 26-year-old man with a previous conviction for assaulting a child was jailed for life yesterday for murdering his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter.
Darren Bennett (pictured) had denied killing Jordan McGann, who suffered a fractured skull from a "catastrophic" blow to her head last August.
His girlfriend at the time of the murder, Jordan's mother Sarah Collins (25), was cleared of her daughter's manslaughter during the trial on the directions of the judge. But she later admitted two counts of child cruelty, including one against the little girl, and was jailed for 18 months.
Bennett was also found guilty of three counts of child cruelty on three young children, including Jordan.
Birmingham Crown Court was told that he had been convicted and jailed for three years in 2002 for assaulting an ex-girlfriend's three-year-old daughter.
Following Jordan's death, on August 4 last year, Bennett maintained she had suffered an epileptic fit following a previous fall down the stairs at the home he shared with Collins in the south east Birmingham area.
However, sentencing him to life with a recommendation that he serve at least 24 years, the judge Mrs Justice Cox said: "I'm satisfied that you deliberately inflicted upon her severe head injuries, most probably by gripping and vigorously shaking and slamming her head against a hard surface to fracture her skull."
Stephen Linehan QC, defending Collins, said of her attempt to cover up: "It was a failure of courage on her part."
Rachel Brand QC, for Bennett, argued in mitigation that he was liable to "explosions of anger" as a reaction to his upbringing in the "violent and bullying atmosphere" of a children's home.
He was taken into the care of social services at the age of 11 and has since had little or no contact with his natural family, she said.
Outside court, Jordan's father, Gary McGann, said he and his family were "half-way happy" with the sentence and the minimum tariff.
But the 25-year-old said: "If I could get my hands on him (Bennett), I'd kill him. Twenty-four years is nothing. She (Jordan) is not going to be here in 24 years."