Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 17:03 UK

Mother jailed for murder of toddler son Bobby Louch

Collette Harris
Harris collapsed in tears as the jury found her guilty

A mother has been jailed for life after she kicked and punched her 21-month-old son to death in south-east London.

Bobby Louch was found with about 80 bruises and injuries at his home in Bexleyheath in December 2008.

Collette Harris denied the charges, blaming boyfriend James Phillips, who was cleared of all the charges against him.

An Old Bailey judge said the 30-year-old would serve a minimum of 16 years after being found guilty of murder.

Among the injuries, the toddler had two broken ribs, bleeding in the spine, massive damage to the brain and severe damage to his abdomen, including a damaged liver and pancreas.

Most of the injuries were inflicted in the 48 hours leading up to him being found dead in his cot on Monday 29 December 2008.

He was kicked in the stomach on Saturday with such force that it damaged vital organs.

Paul Maddox of the Met Police read a statement on behalf of Bobby's father

The day after, he was vomiting and looking disorientated.

He had a burn mark on his right hand which could have been made by it being placed on an oven door, the jury was told.

However, despite Bobby's injuries, Harris refused to take him to hospital.

She told a friend she would be suspected of abusing him, the jury heard.

In the early hours of the Monday morning, a neighbour said he heard a baby "whimpering" and murmuring "mummy".

Later, Harris rang for an ambulance, saying: "My baby won't wake up."

Bobby Louch

This is a terrible thing you did for reasons which are quite incomprehensible

Recorder of London Judge Peter Beaumont

He had been treated for a broken leg three weeks prior to his death and was kept in for a scan when bruises were seen on his forehead.

Harris blamed the bruises on Bobby being clumsy and banging his head on the cot. She later tried to blame her new boyfriend Mr Phillips, of Erith, in Kent.

Richard Whittam, QC, prosecuting, said: "There is compelling evidence that the multiple injuries were the result of deliberate and repeated violence."

Harris screamed, "oh my God", and collapsed in tears as the jury found her guilty of murder.

Sentencing her, Recorder of London Judge Peter Beaumont said: "This is a terrible thing you did for reasons which are quite incomprehensible."

'Traumatic and devastating'

Bobby's father Dan Louch, who separated from Harris in October 2008, said later: "Bobby was our little angel and had his whole life to look forward to, but was so cruelly denied this for reasons we still can't fully comprehend.

"This can now bring to a close the traumatic and devastating quest to find some answers as to what happened to Bobby."

After the case, Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), said: "The level of brutality inflicted on this helpless infant is sickening.

"While governments change, child abuse does not. We need continuous high-level political leadership to protect children from such horrendous cruelty."



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SEE ALSO
Mother denies murdering toddler
29 Apr 10 |  London
Boy died covered in body bruises
20 Apr 10 |  London

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