Mother jailed for life for punching and kicking her 21-month-old baby to deathBy Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:28 PM on 15th May 2010
Collette Harris, 30, must serve at least 16 years behind bars for the murder of Bobby Louch.
He had more than 80 bruises and injuries on his tiny body and head, as well as a burn to his right hand, when he died four days after Christmas in 2008.
He had fatal damage to his brain and abdomen and his injuries were so severe they would normally be seen in a car crash, the Old Bailey was told.
He had suffered 'extensive' bleeding within the skull, bleeding in the spine, as well as severe damage to internal organs as if he had been kicked or punched to the stomach and head.
Most of the injuries were from the 48 hours leading up to his death on December 29, 2008.
But Bobby had been treated for a broken leg three weeks earlier and was kept in for a scan when bruises were seen on his forehead.
The toddler's mother, Collette Harris, complained she was being 'victimised' and said the bruises were the result of Bobby banging his head on his cot.
And tests revealed the ankle fracture was caused accidentally and no other serious injuries were detected so he was discharged.
A consultant at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, who had seen Bobby before, sent him home the next day after checks were made.
Harris, 30, of Dartford, Kent, had denied killing Bobby or causing his injuries.
Harris whispered 'I did not touch my son'.
She had tried to blame her new boyfriend, James Phillips, who denied killing Bobby or causing the injuries.
Drug taker Phillips, 25, of Erith, Kent, was found not guilty of murder and alternate charges of manslaughter and causing or allowing the death.
Sentencing Harris, The Recorder of London Peter Beaumont said: 'It was a terrible thing you did for reasons that are quite incomprehensible, the suffering that was inflicted upon him before death and the abuse of your position of trust.
'I take into account there was an intention not to kill but to cause really serious injuries.'
In a victim impact statement Bobby's natural dad Dan Louch said: 'Bobby's death has completely devastated my life.
'Everyday I ask why and how. There is no explanation and I feel so useless and helpless for what happened. I feel personally to blame. I looked for signs but there were none.
'Collette explained away the bruises to Bobby's head saying he headbutted his cot and I remember how he cowered and covered his head when I reproached him when he was naughty.
'Bobby died having spent the period before Christmas with me and my family.
'Christmas was a wonderful time, it was Bobby's second Christmas and he was more aware and enjoyed opening his presents.'
In the hours before Bobby died, he had been left alone with each adult over the weekend at the family home in Bexleyheath, south-east London.
He was kicked in the stomach on Saturday with such force that it damaged vital organs.
He was sick on Sunday, vomiting and looking disorientated. He had a burn mark on his right hand which could have been made by it being placed on an oven door.
But Harris refused to take him to hospital. She told a friend she would be suspected of abusing him, the court heard.
In the early hours of Monday morning, a neighbour said he heard 'a baby whimpering' and murmuring 'mummy'.
Later, Harris rang for an ambulance, saying: "My baby won't wake up."
Richard Whittam, QC, prosecuting, told the court: 'At the time of his death, Bobby Louch was covered in bruises.
'There is compelling evidence that the multiple injuries were the result of deliberate and repeated violence.'
Bobby's face had been covered in bruises of differing colours and which were less than 48 hours old.
There were 39 mostly finger-tip sized marks on the face and body which could have been made by 'forceful prodding', the court heard.
A bruise to the right ear could have come from pinching or an attempt to pick him up by the ear, said Mr Whittam.
Bobby also had a contact burn to his right hand and his right leg was in plaster because of a fracture 20 days earlier.
The jury was told Harris ended her relationship with Dan Louch, Bobby's father, in October 2008 and took up with Phillips.
'It was clear to her friends that Collette Harris was 'besotted' by James Phillips,' said Mr Whittam.
Harris remained 'extremely enamoured with him' but friends noticed a change in her behaviour.
Bobby spent the period before and after Christmas with his father who did not notice any significant bruising.
But two days after returning home, a friend of Phillips noticed he seemed 'woozy' and that he was vomiting. Harris showed him a bruise on Bobby, said Mr Whittam.
Later, he asked why Harris did not take him to hospital and she allegedly replied:
'How can I take him to the hospital with bruises like that on his body. They will think I am beating him up or something.'
The toddler died the next day.
Harris, from Dartford in Kent, maintained her innocence as she was led to the cells.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1278455/Mother-jailed-life-punching-kicking-21-month-old-baby-death.html?ITO=1708#ixzz0o2NcyuW8