The guardian of a Weoley Castle toddler, who died in September last year following months of horrific abuse, has today (3rd May) been found guilty of her murder by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court.
[Update 4/5/16: Kandyce Downer has today been served with a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 18 years in prison]
18 month old Keegan Shi-Anne Downer died as a result of a cardiac arrest after suffering months of sustained physical abuse at the hands of the woman who she had been placed in the care of.
Kandyce Narielle Downer, 34, of Beckbury Road, was an extended family member of baby Keegan and she had been placed in her care in January 2015 under a special guardianship order.
Keegan was pronounced dead after being rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital on 5th September 2015 having suffered a cardiac arrest.
A post mortem revealed over 200 external and internal injuries, inflicted over months, including a head injury, broken ribs and fractured legs. Her injuries had led to infections which had gone untreated, resulting in blood poisoning and subsequently cardiac arrest and death.
The court heard that, although Downer appeared to provide a loving home for Keegan, she was cunning and devious in her systemic abuse.
It is thought that Downer began to abuse Keegan in June 2015 when her relationship with a married man deteriorated.
West Midlands Police Detective Inspector Harry Harrison, said: “We believe the abuse started when her relationship began to go wrong. This was an extremely disturbing and harrowing case to investigate. What Downer subjected Keegan to was barbaric, inhuman and evil.
“The death of one so young is always tragic but it is horrifying to think of the amount of violence and suffering this young child must have endured in the last few months of her short life in the hands of someone she should have been able to trust.
“I am also astounded by the lack of emotion shown by Downer throughout this investigation. She has not shown a shred of remorse or sorrow. When she finally gave an explanation in the witness box, she even tried to blame Keegan’s injuries on her other children, which I find inconceivable and unbelievable.”
DI Harrison added: “Throughout Downer has shown she is cunning and devious, even disposing of Keegan’s mattress and bedding and buying new bedding shortly before her death.
“Whilst we have today seen justice done, it does not change the tragic fact that an innocent child has lost her life in heart-breaking circumstances.
“I want to thank everyone who has worked hard to find justice for Keegan, including the investigation team and all those who have provided vital evidence to this harrowing inquiry.”
Downer will be sentenced tomorrow Birmingham Crown Court tomorrow.