November 2020

Couple found guilty over death of baby daughter

A couple have been found guilty over the death of their four-week-old baby daughter.

Clare Sanders, 44, and Tomas Vaitkevicius, 45, were accused of murdering Eva Sanders in September 2017 by repeatedly shaking her.

Baby Eva suffered 27 rib fractures as well as injuries to her head and spine from three separate assaults, jurors heard.

Following a retrial at the Old Bailey, Sanders and Vaitkevicius, of Streatham Road, Mitcham, were cleared of murder but convicted of causing or allowing the death of their child.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC remanded the defendants into custody to be sentenced on November 27.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC had told jurors that Eva was “violently shaken” on at least three occasions days apart.

He said: “This was, we say, a brutal series of assaults. A defenceless baby was not able to talk, not able to say what happened, not able to defend herself.”

The couple’s neighbour had raised the alarm in the early hours of September 1 2017 when she woke up to Sanders screaming and ringing the doorbell.

Eva was taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, where she died the next day

On August 27, less than a week earlier, Sanders had made internet searches on her mobile for “shaken baby syndrome NHS”, “shaking babies” and “baby is shaking”

She later told police that Eva’s arms and legs had been shaking but she could not provide an explanation for it.

Vaitkevicius said he was watching television when Sanders went to check on Eva. He denied violently attacking their daughter.

Jurors heard that Vaitkevicius had a string of previous convictions, including assaulting his first wife by grabbing her by the neck during an argument.