Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 17:46 UK

Father guilty of killing daughter in Norwich in 1985

A 51-year-old man has been found guilty of smothering his six-week-old baby to death in 1985.

David Riches was convicted of manslaughter at Norwich Crown Court and will be sentenced in six weeks' time after psychiatric reports.

The death of daughter Melanin came to light in 2007 after Riches, who lived in Norwich but now has a home in Pezens in France, was reunited with son Micah.

He confessed to the killing in a text message and Micah informed the police.

He killed his daughter by pushing her face down into the upholstery on the sofa in their family home on 3 July 1985, the court heard.

Riches had denied killing her but was found guilty of manslaughter by a majority verdict of 10 to one.

'Catalogue of abuse'

"A post-mortem in 1985 concluded sudden infant death syndrome," said prosecutor Sally Howes QC. "That was how the episode remained until 2007."

After various conversations about Melanin's death, Micah, 21, sent Riches a text message asking exactly what had happened the day his sister died.

Riches replied saying that he picked Melanin up after she started crying. When she would not stop he put her face between the arm and the seat of the sofa.

"The police investigation unearthed a catalogue of abuse towards women and children," said Ms Howes.

Earlier in the trial, Judge Peter Jacobs recorded a verdict of not guilty on a murder charge Riches faced because of insufficient evidence.

As well as manslaughter, Riches was also convicted of four counts of child cruelty and six assaults on a number of women and children.

Judge Jacobs remanded Riches in custody for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports and said: "I have found what I have heard in this trial very alarming.

"I think the defendant is a very controlling man who is subject to fits of unpredictable violent and dangerous behaviour."



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