Father convicted of murdering his daughter - Hatfield

13/05/2015

A man has today, Wednesday, 13 May 2015, been convicted at St Albans Crown Court of murdering his daughter in Hatfield last year.

Carl Wheatley, aged 32, of Queen Bee Court, Hatfield, was found guilty, by a jury after a two and a half week trial, of killing 4-year-old Alexa-Marie Quinn at their home on 12 March 2014.

During the trial, the court heard how Alexa-Marie was assaulted by her father over a number of weeks. She suffered 66 marks or injuries to her body and had lost two teeth.

Whilst Carl Wheatley claimed he was not in control of his actions, the prosecution set out that he did know what he was doing. So much so that he went to considerable lengths to keep people away from Alexa-Marie, so that they did not see what he had done to her in the weeks prior to her death.

Wheatley did not seek any medical help for Alexa-Marie; instead he took to the internet to carry out his own research on how to treat bruising and how to repair a tooth.

Eventually, Carl Wheatley called the ambulance service on the morning of 12 March 2014, and stated he had got a bit frustrated with his daughter and that she was hurt. When police arrived they also captured on a body-worn camera his admissions that he had hit her. However, the court heard that Alexa-Marie had probably died sometime before he even called for the emergency services.

Alexa-Marie had moved in with her father on 30 December 2013. Prior to this, she had spent time in care where she was described as a happy, sociable and confident child.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This was a terrible crime, which led to the untimely death of 4-year-old Alexa-Marie Quinn at her home in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

"On Wednesday, 12 March 2014, Alexa's father, Carl Wheatley, who had been given custody of her just over two months earlier, called the emergency services just after 9am. However, it was too late, as she had probably been dead for some time.  The cause of death was a lung embolism caused by extensive blunt force trauma to the skin, which destroyed so many of her cells under her skin that the fat in the cells was released, which travelled to her lungs and blocked them. The body diagram of Alexa indicated 66 marks or areas of fresh injury including missing teeth, blows to the eyes and a head injury. It is impossible to imagine a more vulnerable victim.

"Wheatley admitted causing Alexa's death by pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but not murder. However, the prosecution case was that her death was not caused by a sudden moment of frustration and a single severe blow, but a sustained period of hard hitting which intended to cause her really serious harm. He avoided seeking professional help for Alexa's injuries and chose to cover them up to protect himself as he knew he was responsible for them.  The truth is that the fatal injuries Wheatley caused were the culmination of a series of violent acts by him towards his defenseless daughter and he was today found guilty by a jury of her murder.

"This was an extremely difficult and complex case to prosecute. Without any eye witnesses, we needed lengthy and highly technical evidence from top medical experts to help provide an explanation as to why this little girl died. This evidence, along with expert evidence on Wheatley's mental state, enabled the prosecution to piece together what had happened and exclude any possible innocent explanation for her death.

"We have worked closely with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved for Alexa. We hope that the conviction will in some way help her extended family come to terms with this tragic event.

"Wheatley will be sentenced on Friday, 15 May 2015. The mandatory sentence is life imprisonment and the Judge will set a minimum term. No matter how long he remains in prison we acknowledge that nothing can make up for the loss of Alexa. Our thoughts are very much with her extended family at this time."

Detective Chief Inspector Jerome Kent from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit led the investigation and said: "Alexa-Marie suffered horrific injuries at the hands of her father, a man who should have been protecting her. Not only did he cause her such significant injury prior to her death, he failed to seek any help for her, leaving her to suffer.

"Alexa-Marie, who has been described as a happy child prior to living with her father, died because he lost his temper and took his frustrations out on her. At the age of four she was not able to protect herself from this violent man, who then went out of his way to ensure no-one else could protect or help her either.

"This is an extremely tragic case. No child should ever suffer in this way and our thoughts are with Alexa-Marie's family and those who cared for her. I would like to thank them for their support during this extremely difficult time. I would also like to thank the officers and other professionals who have worked on this case; they have shown great professionalism in the face of such appalling events."

Wheatley will be sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, 15 May 2015.