April 2003

Baby murderer jailed for life


A man who killed a baby girl after mounting a campaign of “physical and sexual torture” has been jailed for life.

Ross Hammond, 23, inflicted 117 injuries on 13-month-old Jade Hart, the daughter of his teenage girlfriend.

The jury heard the toddler was so frightened of Hammond, from Ramsgate in Kent, she began to scream if he even looked at her in the weeks leading up to her death on 31 July last year.

Two jurors at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court wept as the guilty verdict was returned.

Hammond, a labourer from Manston Road, Ramsgate, left the girl’s body covered in bruises and bite marks, the trial heard.

She suffered a series of other injuries including a brain haemorrhage, a broken shin bone, nine fractured ribs, a ruptured liver, a burnt foot and a black eye.

The jury was also told Jade’s fractured ribs had been caused by “severe squeezing or compression” or possibly a punch.

The girl’s mother, Sarah Hart, 19, of Royal Road, Ramsgate, has admitted child cruelty by neglect. She was sentenced to a year in a young offenders institution

The court heard Hart had failed to call the emergency services or get medical treatment for her daughter Jade after Hammond injured the baby.

The court heard Hart, from Canterbury Road East in Ramsgate, had left Jade in the care of 23-year-old Hammond at his flat on 31 July last year.

When she returned to the flat in Staner Court, she found the baby with head injuries and vomit on her, but did not call for an ambulance.

She was eventually convinced to get help but Jade died within 45 minutes of the ambulance arriving.

She was a former girlfriend of Hammond, and met up with him again shortly before the baby’s first birthday, when she returned to Ramsgate after separating from Jade’s father, from Barking, Essex.

Jurors were told Hammond regularly babysat for the little girl after getting back with her mother, but within six weeks Jade had been murdered.

Hart first noticed a large bruise on her daughter’s thigh on 16 July, later discovered to be caused by a human bite.

After more bruises appeared in the next few days she was urged by relatives to take Jade to a doctor, who found marks on her legs and bruises and lumps on her head.

But Hart believed her boyfriend’s story the girl had fallen and hurt herself.

The court heard he inflicted a fresh set of injuries on Jade while babysitting on 31 July, after which her mother found her “floppy” and continually falling asleep and vomiting.

She died in hospital later that day.

Judge Fabyan Evans told Hammond: “I have to take into account your victim was a very young child and in my view she was sexually abused.”

Members of the public cheered and clapped as Hammond, who had denied murder, was led away to start his life sentence.