Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 15:45 UK

Teacher feared pupil 'would kill'

James Howson
Howson had displayed violence towards women as a teenager

It was to become a chilling prediction when the teacher of a pupil who went on to kill his baby daughter noted in a report that he would "commit a murder".

As a teenager, James Howson displayed violent tendencies towards women.

When he was expelled from school, his teacher noted in a report: "This boy will commit a murder before too long."

The 25-year-old was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 22 years, at Leeds Crown Court for murdering his baby daughter by snapping her spine.

The youngster's mother Tina Hunt, 26, was given a 12-month suspended sentence after admitting child cruelty.

'Rapid unconsciousness'

The court was told the teacher, so alarmed by Howson's behaviour, had said: "I've never seen such a disturbed young man."

Yet despite his troubled history, he had no previous convictions.

It was his 16-month-old daughter Amy who eventually brought Howson to the attention of the courts.

The two very people who should have been providing love and protection for this child brought her nothing but misery
Det Supt Carl Sturgess

He was supposed to have been looking after the youngster at the family home in Nelson Road, Doncaster, while her mother was suffering from morning sickness.

In what judge Mrs Justice Cox described as "a chilling and brutal attack", he held the child over his knee and broke her back in two.

She said: "The bone was completely dislocated, resulting in spinal shock, rapid unconsciousness - mercifully - and to death."

The fatal attack in December last year followed weeks of abuse during which Howson slapped and punched his daughter leaving her with broken bones in her arms, legs and ribs.

Jurors who found Howson guilty of murder, were told Amy was also malnourished and dehydrated.

South Yorkshire Police said they had been unable to establish a motive for the killing and steps had been taken to ensure Amy was not seen by doctors.

Det Supt Carl Sturgess, who led the investigation, said: "The catalogue of horrific injuries have been some of the worst I have ever seen in 30 years of policing.

"The two very people who should have been providing love and protection for this child brought her nothing but misery."

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