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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2007, 16:37 GMT
Childminder jailed for baby death
Keran Henderson
Keran Henderson had denied violently shaking the child
A childminder has been jailed for three years for killing an 11-month-old baby by violently shaking her in a temper.

Keran Henderson, 43, of Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Maeve Sheppard.

Henderson, a mother-of-two and a former Beaver Scout leader, had been looking after Maeve when the unconscious baby was taken to hospital in 2005.

Experts at Reading Crown Court said the injuries were caused by the baby's neck being violently snapped back and forth.

The jury convicted Henderson after deliberating for more than 12 hours at the end of a five-week trial.

Fight for life

Judge, Mr Justice Keith, told Henderson: "Your reputation as someone who parents can confidently leave their children with has been shattered.

"You are going to have to live the rest of your life, with the knowledge that Maeve died in your care."

Henderson, who ran her childminding business from her home in Iver Heath, was hired in January 2005 to look after Maeve by her parents Ruth and Mark who came from Slough in Berkshire.

Maeve Sheppard

Medical experts, appearing for the prosecution, told the jury the injuries Maeve suffered could only have been caused by violent shaking.

Her neck ligaments were "over-extended", indicating that her neck had snapped back and forth.

Henderson, who had seven years experience as a childminder, claimed Maeve had a seizure while she was changing her nappy.

'Total shock'

Henderson claimed the baby had been repeatedly ill, virtually from the first day she was in her care, but Maeve's parents denied this claim.

Henderson said that on 2 March, Maeve's body "stiffened and jerked back" as she changed her nappy and the baby's eyes rolled back into her head.

Maeve was taken to hospital for treatment but her life-support machine was switched off two days later.

In the days following this, Henderson said she gave up child minding.

Unable to forgive

The Sheppards said in a statement after the trial: "We will never be able to forgive this woman for what she took away from us."

Mrs Sheppard also wrote a victim impact statement, which the judge asked her not to read out to the court for fear of further unrest in the public gallery from the Henderson's family, who reacted angrily to the jury's verdict.

In the statement, obtained after the case, Mrs Sheppard said: "I heard Keran Henderson asked, whilst giving her evidence, if she had a chance to say goodbye to her son after her arrest in November 2006, and she replied 'yes'.

"My heart sank so heavy when I heard this, I thought and said to myself: 'At least you had the chance to say goodbye'."

SEE ALSO
Childminder denies killing baby
22 Aug 06 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Carer charged with killing baby
15 May 06 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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