A man has been jailed for life after murdering a two-year-old boy in Broadmayne near Dorchester.
Joseph Eke, 22 and of St Lawrence Road in Weymouth, was found guilty of murdering Harry House on Thursday 18 May 2017 following a trial at Winchester Crown Court. He was also found guilty of a separate count of inflicting grievous bodily harm. Eke was found not guilty of a further count of causing grievous bodily harm and one count of causing actual bodily harm.
Today, Monday 5 June 2017, Eke was sentenced to life in prison. He was told he would serve a minimum term of 18 years.
The court was told that Harry died as a result of serious injuries to his head and abdomen and that these were caused by the actions of Eke.
Eke was in a relationship with Harry’s mother and the pair were living on Main Street in Broadmayne at the time, the court heard. The couple are no longer together.
At 9.44am on Thursday 26 May 2016, a 999 call was made by Harry’s mother to report that he was unresponsive.
Paramedics attended the address on Main Street and he was taken to Dorset County Hospital where he was sadly pronounced dead.
A forensic post-mortem examination concluded the cause of death was a blunt force injury to the abdomen and a fractured skull. It also indicated that Harry suffered at least three traumatic events in the week before his death, which resulted in fractured ribs.
The jury was also shown CCTV of Eke assaulting Harry’s mother in July 2016 at Weymouth train station following an altercation about the cause of Harry’s death.
The GBH charge related to rib fractures caused within the week leading up to Harry’s death that were discovered following the post-mortem examination.
A second GBH charge, which Eke was cleared of, was connected to an incident on Easter Sunday 2016 after Harry allegedly fell and cut his face on a plate.
The ABH charge he was found not guilty for related to an older set of rib injuries found on Harry’s body.
Judge Mrs Justice May DBE said: “I’m quite satisfied that the occasions giving rise to the rib fractures and assault causing Harry’s death cannot have been two isolated incidents.
“Nobody will ever know the full extent of your mistreatment of Harry over the last days or possibly even weeks of his life.”
She added: “Any untimely death is a tragedy, it is particularly wretched when a child dies.”
Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Derbyshire, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Joseph Eke subjected two-and-a-half-year-old Harry House to a violent episode that resulted in his death.
“This was an extremely difficult and challenging investigation and I would like to praise all professionals that were involved. Above all, my heartfelt thoughts are with Harry’s family. It has been an absolutely terrible time for them and still continues to be so, with the loss of little Harry from their lives.
“I can only hope that today’s sentence is of some comfort to them. They continue to be supported by our specially-trained officers.”
A statement issued on behalf of Harry’s family said: “This past year has been the most horrific time for our family but we have at least now got justice for our darling Harry, although it is bitter sweet that we have lost him forever.
“We are grateful that no other child and their family will have to go through what we have because of the actions of Eke and are at least thankful he is where he should be and for a very long time.
“We would like to thank Dorset Police for their professional dedication in getting this to where we are today, together with their patience and continued support for our family which has been outstanding.
“Sarah Derbyshire, Neil Phillips, Mark Fossey and the rest of the team – we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. And lastly but not least Lynn Cameron, our family liaison officer who has supported us over and beyond her call of duty by being there for us at all times and introduced us to outside agencies, particularly victim support worker Krissy Romannski, who has been a godsend in this nightmare.
“As a family we now have to try and move on from this heart-breaking tragedy and, although justice has now been done, things will never be the same again.”