Father found guilty of manslaughter of 14-week-old daughter who suffered catastrophic brain injuries

Eleanor Easey had suffered catastrophic brain injuries, the court heard.
Credit: Family photo
Eleanor Easey had suffered catastrophic head injuries, the court heard. Credit: Norfolk Police

A father has been found guilty of killing his 14-week-old daughter, who had more than 30 fractures and three bleeds on the brain when she died.

Christopher Easey, 31, had claimed baby Eleanor suffered the fatal injuries when he braked hard in his car - but police investigating her death could find no evidence the vehicle had had to do an emergency stop or been involved in an accident.

He was found guilty of manslaughter and neglect, after the court was told by people who knew them that he and Eleanor's mother had fed their baby custard cream biscuits and lemon cheesecake, gave her squash to drink, and left her home alone.

Carly Easey, 36, was also found guilty of one count of neglect by the jury at Norwich Crown Court.

Christopher and Carly Easey were both found guilty of neglect. Credit: Facebook

Catastrophic brain injury

Baby Eleanor was found to have catastrophic head injuries - which suggested shaking or an impact to the head - as well as bone fractures and signs of malnourishment, said Norfolk Police.

She had been taken to hospital on 18 December 2019 after being found unresponsive at home, and a CT scan showed a significant head injury and recent bleeding between her skull and brain.

She was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and later Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where doctors confirmed she had suffered a catastrophic brain injury. She died on 20 December 2019.

The trial heard Eleanor had suffered bleeds to her brain on three separate occasions, and multiple retinal haemorrhages.

Those injuries suggested non-accidental head trauma, possibly due to shaking, impact or a combination of both, said experts.

She was also found to have multiple historic bone fractures and rib fractures, and was malnourished.

'Pregnancy had been concealed'

During the investigation, officers discovered that Carly Easey had concealed her pregnancy and Eleanor spent the first few weeks of her life in intensive care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.

In October, health visitors noticed bruising and scratches to Eleanor’s face, which her mother said were due to an ill-fitting car seat, while explaining the scratches were self-inflicted.

The couple were initially arrested on suspicion of assault grievous bodily harm in December 2019, but following the findings of the post-mortem, were re-arrested on suspicion of murder in January 2020.

As well as claiming the head injuries were because of braking in the car, Christopher Easey said Eleanor would sometimes bang her head on cot.

In her interview, Carly Easey could not account for Eleanor’s injuries other than the bruising to Eleanor’s face.

Both parents were initially charged with murder.

However, evidence showed Carly Easey was not present at the time Eleanor had suffered the brain injury that proved to be fatal, and prosecutors subsequently dropped the murder charge against her.

'She deserved so much better'

Christopher Easey, of Ely Road, Little Thetford in Cambridgeshire was remanded into custody and Carly Easey, of Elizabeth Drive, Chedburgh in Suffolk, was granted bail until they are sentenced on 29 April.

Det Insp Lewis Craske, who led the investigation, said: “My thoughts today, as they have been throughout this investigation and will always be, are with little Eleanor.

"She was only 14 weeks old when she died yet had 31 fractures to her fragile body and three separate bleeds on her brain.

“Eleanor’s parents, the very people who should have protected and loved her above everything and everyone else, failed her on an unimaginable scale from the moment she was born.

"She was neglected for much, if not all, of her short life. She deserved so much better.

“This has been a desperately sad, incredibly complex and highly emotive investigation for me and all those who have worked so very hard on bringing this case to court. I am extremely proud of and grateful for their dedication and commitment.”