November 2010

Jailed for life: ‘Sadist’ who murdered 15-month-old toddler because her crying interrupted him playing on his X-Box

Sadistic Gary Alcock was jailed for life today for the ‘horrific’ murder of a 15-month-old girl whose crying interrupted him playing on his X-Box.

Violet Mullen was punched, slapped and pinched by Alcock in the three weeks leading up to her death before he delivered a fatal blow to the stomach which tore her internal organs.

Alcock, 28, must serve a minimum of 21 years. A jury had cleared his ex-partner, Claire Flanagan, 22 – the child’s mother – of murder.

Last month she was instead found guilty of causing or allowing the death of Violet by ignoring the obvious signs of abuse. She was jailed for five years.

The youngster died from internal bleeding after suffering 35 separate injuries including multiple bruises, rib fractures and brain damage, which were comparable to injuries suffered in a car crash.

Sentencing the pair at Manchester Court, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, told Alcock: ‘You fractured two of her ribs either by squeezing or gripping her so tight that they snapped.

‘You caused injuries to her brain, face, arms and legs with a combination of punches, slaps and, bordering on the sadistic, pinches.

‘This was the way you chose to cope with a demanding little girl who demanded your attention and interrupted your time-consuming hobby of playing computer games.’

Alcock put her to bed on the day of her death, said the judge, ‘no doubt in the hope that you would have some time free to indulge your desire to play on your X-Box’.

He added: ‘Violet was sick, she required changing, she required your time and patience.

You lost control and your temper in the most unimaginable way. You struck her first in the mouth and then inexplicably and with savage force in the stomach.’

The blow was struck with such force it tore her internal organs, he said.

Alcock then put her back in her cot and waited for the return home of Flanagan who then attempted to cover up the injuries by taking no action.

The court was told that Flanagan put her desperate need for a man in her life ahead of her daughter needs.

Judge Goldstone said she knew for weeks that her boyfriend was hurting Violet but did nothing to protect her.

He told her: ‘You could have sought medical help, you could have involved social services, you could have asked him (Alcock) to leave, but any of those options would have put at risk your relationship which you, at the time, priced far more highly than your relationship and love for Violet.

‘You blatantly ignored the significant risk of more violence to Violet that was staring you in the face.

‘As a mother you failed her miserably. That is something you will have to live with the for the rest of your life’.

The judge told Alcock: ‘You claimed you loved Violet. You did not love her. You do not know the true meaning of the word.

‘You are a manipulative and possessing individual who has used violence in relationships to achieve control.

‘Yours was a truly horrific and cruel crime of murder in which you have shown absolutely no remorse or shame.’

Judge Goldstone said: ‘We will never know how much she (Violet) suffered.’

The court was told that  an ambulance was called to Flanagan’s home in Huddersfield Road, Oldham on January 12 after Alcock told emergency services the child seemed ‘spaced out’ and her lips were blue and cold.

Paramedics found the child  was not breathing and covered in bruises. They tried to revive her in the ambulance but she died 45 minutes after arrival at Royal Oldham Hospital

Flanagan was said to be an ‘easy touch’  who was desperate to be in a relationship with a man who would look after her and her daughter.

Alcock  moved in and adopted the role of father figure immediately. But his use of discipline soon led to the frightened girl cowering in his presence.

Alcock had only one previous conviction for violence but the jury heard evidence that he had been violent towards other children and to his ex-partner of eight years over a prolonged period.

Councillor Jack Hulme, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: ‘Our objective now is to honour Violet’s memory in the best way possible: by learning any lessons that might prevent other children suffering as she did’.

A NSPCC spokeswoman said: ‘This dreadful case has echoes of Baby Peter – a vulnerable toddler left at the mercy of a heartless thug.

‘It is also another sickening example of how a violent bully has been able to worm his way into a home and carry out a campaign of terror against a child unchecked’.