Father jailed for murdering his daughter - Hatfield

15/05/2015

A man appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Friday, 15 May 2015, and was jailed for life and to serve a minimum of 21 years for murdering his daughter in Hatfield last year.

Carl Wheatley, aged 31, of Queen Bee Court, Hatfield, was found guilty on Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 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, which began on Monday, 27 April, the court heard how Wheatley assaulted his daughter 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 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 defenceless daughter and he was found guilty on Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 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 and today's sentence will in some way help her extended family come to terms with this tragic event. However, 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: "This was a truly horrific case whereby a father, who should have been protecting his daughter, beat her to death and didn't seek help until it was too late. No child should suffer in this way and it is right that Carl Wheatley, who is a dangerous and violent man, was found guilty of murder and sentenced accordingly.

"This has been an extremely distressing time for Alexa-Marie's family and our thoughts are with them. Despite having to relive what happened to her, they have remained dignified and supported the investigation throughout and I would like to thank them.

"I would also like to thank all of the police officers and other professionals who have worked on this case. It has been extremely difficult to understand how any person could inflict such injury on a child. However, due to their professionalism justice has been delivered."