Page last updated at 19:22 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 20:22 UK

Baby P man guilty of raping girl

Baby P
Baby P died after months of abuse despite visits from authorities

The 32-year-old boyfriend of Baby P's mother has been convicted of raping a two-year-old girl in north London.

The crime came to light after the man was arrested over 17-month-old Baby P's death. The Old Bailey jury cleared Baby P's mother of cruelty to the girl.

In November the man was convicted of - and the mother admitted - causing the death of Baby P, now named as Peter. Sentencing will be on 21 and 22 May.

The girl, like Baby P, was on Haringey Council's child protection register.

The couple, who were remanded in custody, and the girl cannot be identified for legal reasons.

False names

The adults were tried under false names amid fears that an internet hate campaign could influence jurors.

It is telling that this man denied rape and in doing so forced a vulnerable child to endure a daunting criminal process
Det Ch Insp Graham Grant

The boyfriend will be sentenced for rape and for causing or allowing Baby P's death in August 2007. Baby P's mother and lodger Jason Owen, who was convicted of the same charge over Baby P, will also be sentenced.

The judge will be able to pass a life sentence on the boyfriend if he considers him to be a danger to the public.

Judge Kramer told the couple: "The likelihood is of very substantial sentences in both cases."

Baby P died in Haringey after suffering months of abuse and despite visits by the authorities.

Video interview

In the latest trial, the girl - now four years old - became the youngest child to give evidence at the Old Bailey, through a video link.

The court was also shown her video interview with police when she was three, in which she said the man had hurt her.

Prosecuting, Sally O'Neill QC said the girl demonstrated the attack on her to the psychiatrist by using a doll and a toy bear.

Drawing of courtroom scene
By denying rape, the attacker forced the girl into giving video evidence

Defence barristers argued that the child's evidence was not reliable and the allegation could have been suggested to her by another child.

Medical evidence was inconclusive but a test showed a finding which "could be supportive" of the allegation.

Outside court, Det Ch Insp Graham Grant said there was no doubt the girl suffered terribly.

"This case has shocked everyone to the core," he said.

"It is telling that this man denied rape and in doing so forced a young and vulnerable child to endure a daunting criminal process at the Old Bailey."

He described the girl's resilience as "extraordinary".

"I sincerely hope that with continued support of friends and her family she will be able to lead a happy and fulfilled life," he said.

'Heinous crimes'

Haringey Council said an investigation into the girl's case was under way, examining the role of different agencies.

Council leader Claire Kober said of Friday's verdict: "We have accepted that things went badly wrong with our child protection in 2007.

"We live every day with the knowledge that more could have been done and apologise again to everyone affected. We are committed to putting things right."

Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of children's charity NSPCC, said the offences were "among the most heinous crimes against small children we have ever seen".

"Thankfully, those responsible have been convicted," he said.

"Hopefully they will receive severe prison sentences which will keep them away from children for a very long time."

Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls said: "People around the country will be horrified to learn that an adult living in the household of Baby Peter has also committed another vile and disgusting crime against a small and vulnerable child.

"I will not rest until we have implemented the recommendations from Lord Laming, swiftly and thoroughly, so that we can have the best child protection arrangements possible."

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DCI Graham Grant: 'There were many lies to conceal the sexual abuse of a toddler'



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SEE ALSO
Baby P report branded 'unlawful'
10 Mar 09 |  England
Sacked Baby P boss lodges claim
09 Mar 09 |  England
What happened to Baby P?
18 Nov 08 |  Front page
Timeline: Key events in baby case
14 Nov 08 |  London

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