Soldier jailed for baby death

A soldier who killed his 20-month-old daughter after surviving a rogue attack in Afghanistan has been jailed for six years.

Lance Corporal Liam Culverhouse admitted causing the death of Khloe Abrams at an earlier hearing.

The Grenadier Guardsman was medically discharged from the Army after losing his right eye in the shootings at an Afghan National Police checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand Province in November 2009. Five of his comrades were killed in the attack.

Eighteen months after returning home, Culverhouse assaulted Khloe at the family home in Northampton, resulting in the toddler suffering severe brain damage and fractures to her skull, ribs and limbs.

The toddler, who was just seven weeks old, was admitted to Northampton General Hospital on May 8 2011.

Despite receiving medical treatment, she never recovered and died at the Rainbow Children's Hospice in Loughborough 18 months later on November 7 2012.

Sentencing Culverhouse today at Northampton Crown Court, the judge Mr Jeremy Baker said it was clear he had been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder following his ordeal but that did not diminish the fact he had caused the death of his daughter.

Jailing the 25-year-old for six years, Mr Justice Baker said: "No one who has understood what happened to you in November 2009 whilst serving as a member of the British Army in Afghanistan can have anything but profound sympathy for the effect which it had upon you.

"Not only will you have to live with the physical symptoms including blindness in your right eye, but it is clear that the trauma of that and of witnessing the death of a number of your fellow soldiers has caused you to suffer from significant psychological damage, including post traumatic stress disorder".

But the judge added: "As I have said I accept that the effects of your mental condition contributed to your treatment of your daughter. However you acknowledged to police and others that prior to your experiences in Afghanistan you had always had a temper which manifested itself in other circumstances."

Culverhouse, of Kingsthorpe, Northampton, stared straight ahead during the two and a half hour hearing but closed his eyes as the judge read out his sentence.

The court heard he was transferred to a military rehabilitation unit after being treated in hospital for his injuries sustained in Afghanistan.

Prosecuting Sally Howes QC said: "It became clear that the defendant was suffering from psychiatric and psychological damage in particular post traumatic stress disorder."

She told the court Culverhouse was "hyper-vigilant, over-reactive to minor things, irritable, angry and aggressive". He also had "poor control" of his temper and aggression.

Culverhouse told military doctors he would get angry before the incident but that following the ordeal he would now "fly off the handle at the slightest thing".

But the court heard he stopped attending medical treatment for his post traumatic stress disorder which was provided by the Army following his ordeal in Afghanistan.

Sentencing Culverhouse the judge said: "This was not a case in which you lacked insight into the problems with your temper.

"On the contrary it is clear from what you told a number of individuals prior to the incident that you appreciated the significant risk of serious harm to your daughter, yet you failed to alleviate the risk."

Northampton Crown Court heard Culverhouse told friends and doctors that he feared being left with his daughter Khloe.

He said he "feared what he would so if the child would not stop crying".

But Culverhouse failed to attend his last appointment with medical doctors in 2010 and was eventually discharged from medical care in February 2011.

Months later, Culverhouse claims he and his then partner Clare Abrams found Khloe unresponsive at her home in Northampton and took her to hospital.

The court heard the pair had met on Facebook and that friends had described the relationship as "turbulent".

They took Khloe to Northampton General Hospital on May 8 2011.

Doctors described the toddler as being "pale" and "unresponsive."

They found she had suffered multiple injuries including fractures to her skull, ribs, and limbs.

The court heard the injuries were likely to have been caused by the impact of the head with a flat surface, pulling and twisting of the limbs and violent shaking.

Khloe remained in hospital for the next eight months before being discharged into the care of the Rainbow children's hospice in Loughborough.

By that time, Khloe was suffering from a variety of serious medical conditions caused by the original injuries including cerebral palsy, seizures, blindness and a hearing impairment.

She carried on receiving further hospital treatment until her death in November 2011. A post mortem examination carried out at Leicester Royal Infirmary found the primary cause of death to be pneumonia caused by the immobility and debilitation resulting from the injuries she had sustained.

When he was arrested on May 8, Culverhouse denied causing his daughter any injury.

He told police: "Sometimes I can't cope with the crying and stuff like that.

"Sometimes she'll be poorly and she'll scream and scream and scream and then I'll get angry but I haven't hit her".

He added: "I'm definitely not responsible for any injuries to my daughter".

But in November last year, at Nottingham Crown Court, Culverhouse admitted causing the death of Khloe.

In mitigation, David Howell, defending Culverhouse, told the court: "This is a young man who on operational service had a very traumatic experience indeed.

"Clearly he had a bullet through his head that he did not want or ask for."

Mr Howell told the court there had been gaps in Culverhouse's treatment following his ordeal.

"This is a man who has fallen between two stools. He didn't have any further care on the mental health side which made it difficult for him to cope. Mental health teams failed, the correct procedures have been missed."

The barrister told the court: "This is a young man who did say to many people I can't actually cope with the crying and I do get angry.

"He is horrified by what has happened. The tragedy and the death has weighed very heavily on him coupled with the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan."

The judge told Culverhouse he would serve half his sentence before being released on licence.

Khloe's mother, Clare Abrams, of Loyd Road, Abington, pleaded not guilty to the charge of causing the death of a child and her case was dismissed at an earlier hearing at Nottingham Crown Court.

Culverhouse's father, sister and mother were in court for today's hearing but made no comment following the sentencing.

Following the hearing, Northamptonshire Police said a serious case review had been carried out and would be published in due course.

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Woliter, from the force said: "The death of any child is a tragedy, but this one more so because of the fact that the person responsible for looking after her failed her in the most profound way.

"It is clear from the investigation and from the early guilty plea, that Liam Culverhouse was himself a very troubled man, and clearly unfit to look after a small baby.

"I hope that the prison sentence affords him the chance to reflect on his actions and be truly remorseful for failing to adequately care for his child.

"This has been a difficult investigation, and I would like to thank Khloe's extended family for their support, the professional carers who did everything they could to make her short life more comfortable and the officers who worked on this case.

"A serious case eeview has been carried out by the Local Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire and, now sentencing is complete, that will be published in due course."

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