Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 13:14 UK

Babysitter beat toddler to death

Demi Leigh Mahon

A 15-year-old boy has been convicted of murdering a two-year-old girl who was left in his care for 90 minutes.

Demi Leigh Mahon was beaten, bitten and had her hair sheared off during the attack which left her with 68 injuries, Manchester Crown Court heard.

She was left with killer Karl McCluney while her mother went to claim a child benefit cheque in July last year.

McCluney took her to a park before attacking her at a house in Salford, Greater Manchester.

He had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but the jury rejected this claim.

Following McCluney's conviction the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney lifted the reporting restrictions on the defendant's identity.

The attack on Demi Leigh was so ferocious, the court heard, that she was left brain-damaged after being punched repeatedly in the face.

Gill Baker, director of children's services at Salford City Council

Toddler's death was 'unavoidable'

Pathologist Dr Naomi Carter said part of her scalp was also sheared off, most likely as a result of it coming into contact with a hard surface.

Dr Carter told the jury it was neither "reasonable or credible" the vast majority of the injuries were sustained accidentally.

When her mother, Ann Marie McDonald, returned she saw the injuries he had inflicted.

She told the court during the five day trial: "I screamed 'Why haven't you rung an ambulance?'.

"He said 'I never done nothing, I've not done nothing'."

Karl McCluney
Karl McCluney killed Demi Leigh but tried to say it was an accident

Demi Leigh was taken to hospital where her parents were at her bedside when her life support machine was switched off two days later.

At first, McCluney tried to pretend the little girl had fallen over in the park and hurt herself, but it was clear she had been beaten.

Speaking before the verdict, her father, Gary Mahon, described seeing her in hospital.

"I knew she was going to die," he said, "There was no way she could have lived through that, it was disgusting."

Psychiatrist Dr Cesar Lengua said he had made an admission of guilt to a health worker: "I'm not proud of what I've done and everyone will think I'm a monster but nobody can ever punish me as much as I'll punish myself."

Dr Lengua, who was called by the defence, said the boy suffered from an unsocialised conduct disorder and had a "below normal" IQ.

He said it was clear there were "disharmonious relationships between the parental figures in this boy's life" and family dynamics were crucial to understanding the development of his conduct disorder.

The jury heard the boy has never explained his attack on Demi Leigh but has alluded to the fact he was angry with her behaviour.

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